Greenpeace is calling the New Zealand Superannuation Fund’s just-announced $950 million divestment from big polluters an “aha” moment for the country’s economy.

Climate campaigner, Kate Simcock, says the Super Fund’s commercial decision to sell off almost $1 billion worth of investments in polluting companies due to the long-term risk climate change poses to the portfolio, sends a clear signal that there is no future in fossil fuels.

“Today’s announcement by the New Zealand Super Fund is a turning point for New Zealand, because they are recognising that fossil fuels are not financially viable,” she says.

“New Zealand’s largest investment fund obviously got the memo before the National Government. Many of the companies the Super Fund has dumped including Statoil, Chevron, and Anadarko, are the very same companies that the Government insists on subsidising and supporting.

“This should be a wakeup call for a backward Government that refuses to accept the fact that if we don’t act urgently climate change will wreak havoc on everything, including the economy.

“We need leaders who can make smart, innovative decisions that will benefit us in the long-term just as the Super Fund has just done, not a Government that panders to private interests in full knowledge of climate science in order to line the pockets of oil tycoons.

“It’s time to get the oil out of Government.”

The Super Fund has completely divested from oil companies including Statoil, Chevron and Anadarko, as well as the owner of Huntly coal-fired power station, Genesis Energy, and New Zealand Oil & Gas.

Greenpeace, iwi and other groups have protested the presence of Statoil, Chevron and Anadarko in New Zealand waters for years. In April, Greenpeace protesters swam in front of a seismic ship Statoil had commissioned to search for deep sea oil.

Last week, Greenpeace revealed that it had been the target of a multi-year covert spy operation, ordered by oil companies, including Anadarko and Norwegian state-owned company, Statoil.

The environmental organisation was tipped off that the companies had contracted controversial spy agency, Thompson & Clark Investigations, to collect information about potentially hundreds of Greenpeace staff and volunteers, including following and watching people in their personal lives.

Greenpeace has launched legal action to protect the privacy of its staff and volunteers. This includes requesting an injunction to stop any ongoing surveillance, and launching a privacy claim.

The New Zealand Government has now been implicated in the case and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) has admitted that its petroleum division did receive information from Thompson & Clark about Greenpeace while the Amazon Warrior was searching for oil in New Zealand.