Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

University’s Share Portfolio Makes Coal Industry Dirty

By Ian Lowe

Selling shares in fossil fuel companies may seem an ethical choice but it may equally be sound investment practice.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The recent decision by the Australian National University to sell its shares in a small number of fossil fuel-intensive companies provoked a real old-fashioned slanging match.

In the blue corner, several current and past Coalition ministers were indignant about the message that ANU was sending. As an extreme example, PM Tony Abbott ceremonially opened a new coal mine in Queensland in that same week and offered his opinion that coal is good for humanity. Blasts from the past like Peter Reith and Peter Costello also weighed into the debate, claiming that Australia’s standard of living depends critically on coal exports.

The Grattan Institute conceded that domestic gas prices will certainly soar with commissioning of the export projects now being developed, but counselled against government intervention to cushion local users, saying that the only way forward is to allow the market to operate effectively.

As would have been expected, the Murdoch press also jumped on board the bandwagon, quoting selectively from the International Energy Agency to claim that coal will still be meeting the great majority of an expanding world energy demand in 2030. One paper even attacked a Fairfax rival for daring to publish an opinion piece stating that Abbott’s faith in coal is wrong!

In what could be called the green corner, scientists were drawing attention to...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.