London, UK -- National data released today has revealed that Bromley Council is investing £32 million in the fossil fuel industry through their management of the council pension fund . Campaigners say the controversial investments threaten the climate and also represent an unacceptable financial risk to pension-holders.
The release of the ‘Fuelling the Fire’ report and data coincides with UN international climate talks taking place in Bonn, Germany, which the UK government is attending. It highlights the incompatibility of the UK’s climate action promises with continued investment in the fossil fuel industry .
Gabriel Davalos, from campaigning group Divest London commented:
“It’s shocking to see Bromley investing so significantly in such a financially risky and morally bankrupt industry.
“Two years ago, our government agreed to the Paris Treaty - pledging that the UK, along with the rest of the world, would take real action to tackle climate change.
“The fact that the local council continues to invest in the companies responsible for the crisis flies in the face of this agreement, and of all the efforts being made locally to reduce emissions and combat climate change.”
The data and online map released by 350.org, Platform and Friends of the Earth ranks councils by their fossil fuel investments, and allows residents to see every company or fund their local council has invested in. Across London, local government pension funds are investing £1.9 billion in oil, coal and gas, while nationally, council pension funds invest a total of £16 billion.
Several London councils already made commitments to lower their fossil fuel exposure, including Waltham Forest and Southwark – the first funds in the UK to commit to fully divest – and Hackney and Haringey, who have made partial commitments .
Waltham Forest Councillor Simon Miller (Cabinet Member, previously Chair of Waltham Forest Pension Fund) commented:
“I am proud that Waltham Forest has committed to divest from fossil fuels. Given current pressures on Local Authority budgets, our pension funds have a key role to play, not only in making our economy greener and our communities healthier, but as driver of sustainable, future focused investment in local areas.”
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, pledged to divest the London Pension Fund Authority in his manifesto, but the subsequent policy released has stopped short of committing to divest all fossil fuel assets .
Ellen Gibson, Divestment Campaigner with 350.org added:
“With hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, wildfires ravaging southern Europe and flooding and drought destroying lives across the world - the impacts of climate change are hitting hard.
“Despite this, UK councils are still plowing billions into companies like Exxon, Shell and BP who have spent decades fuelling the crisis, and profiting on its back.
“Climate change isn’t a problem for future generations - it’s happening now, and action has never been more urgent. Our councils, and all public institutions, must cut their ties with the fossil fuel companies responsible and divest.”
In June 2017, UNISON, the largest trade union representing local government workers in the country, passed policy to “seek divestment of Local Government Pension Schemes from fossil fuels over five years giving due regard to fiduciary duty”. Unison is represented on the boards of a number of the council pension funds. At this year’s Trades Union Congress, a motion supporting pension fund divestment also passed unanimously .
- Full data, report and interactive map available from Thursday 9th November at: https://gofossilfree.org/uk/fuellingthefire
- The 2017 Carbon Majors Report estimates that only 100 fossil fuel companies are responsible for 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions (http://carbonmajors.org). Oil Change International’s 2016 report shows that potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming (http://priceofoil.org/2016/09/22/the-skys-limit-report)
- Waltham Forest and Southwark Council Pension Funds have committed to phase out all fossil fuel investments from their portfolio. To see the full list of global divestment commitments, visit: gofossilfree.org/commitments
- The new divestment policy, agreed this year, appears to commit the LPFA to divestment, but campaigners have exposed loopholes in the wording (https://www.desmog.uk/2017/06/27/london-mayor-divestment-pledge-100-percent-does-not-commit-london-divest-fossil-fuels)
- For a copy of the resolution passed by UNISON see: https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2017/07/2017-National-Delegate-Conference_Decisions_Booklet_20170718.pdf (p92 onwards)
- For a copy of the motion passed by the TUC see: http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/tuc-resolution-on-public-ownership-of-energy-and-climate-change/
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