Ben & Jerry's and 350.org campaign for a freeze on fossil fuel investments

The global ice cream manufacturer and anti-fossil fuel group are urging Australians to petition their city governments to divest from coal, oil, and gas in a new campaign.

ben & jerry's ice cream2
Ben & Jerry’s and 350.org Australia aim to increase the number of Australian cities that have divested from fossil fuels through their online campaign. Image: Kami Jo , CC BY-NC-ND 2.0via Flickr

American ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has partnered with climate activism group 350.org Australia to launch a campaign to freeze fossil fuels investments, by encouraging Australians to lobby their local governing bodies to ensure that none of its assets are in coal, oil and gas.

Online campaign “Freeze Fossil Fuels”, launched last week, includes a website which urges Australians to petition local councils to divest from fossil fuels. The city of Sydney had over A$627 million at the time of its divesment in October 2016, while the city of Melbourne had over A$12 million at the time of its divestment a year before. 

“Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of championing climate justice and now we are urging local councils across Australia to join us on our mission. For those Councils yet to divest, we encourage them to get behind our campaign and we ask the Australian community to help us do that by signing the petition,” said Ben & Jerry’s Australia spokesperson Bert Naber in a statement.

At the moment, 35 Australian Councils, including the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart, have already committed to shifting their money away from banks that fund fossil fuels. 

In 2015 alone, Australia’s four biggest banks—Westpac, ANZ, NAB, and the Commonwealth Bank—pumped US$5.5 billion into the fossil fuel sector, supporting coal, oil and liquefied natural gas in Australia and overseas. But in December last year, NAB became the first of the “Big Four” to announce that it will stop financing new projects to mine thermal coal. 

We need to act quickly to protect the climate from irreparable damage, and targeting the fossil fuel industry through divestment is one of the most powerful ways of ensuring that happens.

Glen Klatovsky, deputy chief executive officer, 350.org Australia

As part of the campaign, Ben & Jerry’s has also said that many of its best-selling flavours are “endangered” as a result of climate change, and that fossil fuel divestment will help to sustain the production of its ice creams in the long term.

With nut trees needing sufficiently cold temperatures to grow, flavours including Chunky Monkey and Coconut Seven Layer Bar could face extinction, while Brownie Batter and Phish Food could be in short supply within just two years, with cocoa production at risk of falling by up to 50 per cent. 

In addition to the online campaign, 350.org Australia aims to increase awareness through the Accelerate tour across Australia, to inform people about why fossil fuel divestment is important to tackle climate change and how to take direct action.

The five-city tour will visit Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide until 4 May.

Glen Klatovsky, 350.org Australia deputy chief executive officer, said communities can bring about change when they are united. “The Accelerate tour is about inspiring people to join forces and use their combined pressure to speed up action to support the move away from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. We need to act quickly to protect the climate from irreparable damage, and targeting the fossil fuel industry through divestment is one of the most powerful ways of ensuring that happens.”

Globally, more organisations are divesting from fossil fuel related investments, including New York city’s plans to divest from fossil fuels and sue the fossil fuel industry for the costs of climate impacts on the metropolis, and San Francisco’s plan for divestment created early this year. 

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