ANUSA’s OGM on Monday the 2nd of August saw the passage of a divestment referendum proposed by the Environment Collective. This referendum will ask undergraduate students to answer yes or no to the question “Do you think ANU [sic] should withdraw all current investments in the fossil fuel industry and commit to make no further investments in the fossil fuel industry?”
The referendum will be held concurrently with the ANUSA General Elections, from the 30th of August to the 2nd of September, however the result is not binding on the ANU. When asked about the referendum’s aim, co-convener of the Environmental Collective Ben Yates stated it was about giving a “clear mandate” in opposition to the ‘platitudes’ which had come from the Vice-Chancellor. While Yates acknowledged that the actual amount of money that the ANU invests in fossil fuels is a “drop in the ocean” divestment would be “…more of a moral standpoint”.
Following the passage of motion at SRC 4, ANU Librarian Roxanne Missingham was appointed as the Returning Officer for the election. The motion also required that ANUSA campaign for students to vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum, and that the result of the referendum be tabled at the next meeting of the ANU Board.
When asked for comment, the ANU stated that their current investment regulations exclude companies that derive more than 20 per cent of their revenue from coal, and that regulations stipulate the ANU must hold a portfolio with 25 percent less carbon intensity than the ASX 200. In 2020, “… almost 97 per cent of the University’s investments met these objectives.” The ANU also highlighted its implementation of the ‘Below Zero initiative’, which commits the ANU to removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it produces by 2030.