October 14, 2014

Örebro first Swedish city to divest from fossil fuels

 

Örebro, Sweden — The City of Örebro is the first Swedish city to commit to pull its funds out of fossil fuels, in a move to align its investments with its environmental goals. Örebro is the 30th local authority worldwide to take this step, following in the footsteps of cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and the Dutch town of Boxtel. It is the latest announcement in a rapidly growing number of institutions that pull their funds out of oil, coal and gas companies.

Örebro, the seventh biggest city in Sweden [1] with total assets of € 225 million, has already reduced its investments in fossil fuels from more than € 2 million to currently € 655,000 (SEK 6 million) since the City Council has adopted a divestment policy in June. Lena Baastad, mayor of Örebro says, “We need to take action on climate change on various levels. Our efforts are more meaningful, when we ensure that our financial assets don’t work in the opposite direction.”Mats Rodenfelt, chief financial officer at the City of Örebro adds, “Our goal is to become a fossil-free municipality by 2050. It was therefore only natural to also apply this policy to our investments.”

Olivia Linander, 350.org Divestment Organiser for Sweden challenges sustainability-minded cities to follow Örebro’s lead as local government representatives gather at a sustainable cities conference in Stockholm, saying, “Örebro has demonstrated leadership as the first local council in Sweden to cut its financial ties to oil, coal and gas companies. Cities serious about sustainability need to follow Örebro’s example. You cannot talk about sustainability while funding an industry that is causing climate wreckage.”

To stay below 2 degree global warming, 80 percent of the fossil fuel industry’s carbon reserves can never be burned. Still, fossil fuel companies spend billions every year to discover and develop yet more carbon. In response, more and more institutions are pulling their funds out of these companies. What started with student campaigns at a few US campuses in 2011, has led institutions with a combined asset size of more than $50 billion to ditch their fossil fuel holdings. Among these institutions are the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the World Council of Churches, the British Medical Association and Stanford University. [2] Last week, Glasgow University became the first academic institution in Europe to withdraw its funds from fossil fuels.

In Sweden, Fossil Free campaigns put pressure on universities, cities and the country’s national pension funds, which invest a total of SEK 32 billion in fossil fuels. The Church of Sweden, one of the first institutions to take up divestment, has recently announced that it has completed its divestment process. Its assets of more than € 540 million (SEK 5 billion) are now fossil free. Last month, Lund University has bowed to student pressure and decided to sell its shares in Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom. The university will consider full fossil fuel divestment at their next board meeting in November. Similarly, Jönköping University is set to take a decision on fossil fuel divestment in December.

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QUOTES

Lena Baastad, mayor of Örebro:

“We have high ambitions for our work on climate change. A few years from now, Örebro will be self-sufficient with renewable energy thanks to our investments in wind and solar power. We have recently introduced adopted a policy banning fossil fuels from the municipality’s investments. We make no investments in companies involved in the exploration, exploitation, extraction or production of oil, gas, tar sands and other unconventional fossil fuels. We also make no investments in the coal industry. This policy also applies to the assets of foundations that the municipality manages.”

CONTACT: Melanie Mattauch, 350.org Europe Communications Coordinator, melanie@350.org+49 151 5812 0184

Olivia Linander, 350.org Sweden Divestment Organiser, olivia@350.org, +46 738 226 906

EDITORS’ NOTE: 

[1] Municipality of Örebro

[2] Arabella Advisors, ‘Measuring the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement’ (September 2014)

More information about the global Fossil Free campaign: http://gofossilfree.org

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