UK Councils:

Fuelling the Fire

New data has revealed that councils across the UK are investing more than £16 billion in the fossil fuel industry – the companies responsible for the climate crisis.

It’s time for our local councils to stop #fuellingthefire and divest.

Wildfires in Portugal

Press

Press enquiries contact: Anna Galkina / Platform / 07942044472 / anna@platformlondon.org

Download full briefing including comparison tables and methodology overview.

  • Councils invest £16.1 billion of pensions into fossil fuel companies out of a total of £289.9 billion, new data reveals
  • No significant change on 2015 investments, despite pressure to take climate risk into account
  • Greater Manchester, Dumfries and Galloway, Torfaen, and Hammersmith and Fulham authorities are among the most exposed to fossil fuel investments

Jane Thewlis, West Yorkshire Pension Fund member and divestment campaigner, said:

“Our pensions are investing in the companies responsible for the climate crisis. This flies in the face of the Paris Agreement, and of all the efforts being made locally to reduce emissions and combat climate change. It’s time to divest.”

George Guivalu Nacewa, Fiji Climate Warrior attending the COP23 talks in Bonn, said:

“In the Pacific, the impacts of climate change are not a debate, it is our reality. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. We no longer have time to talk. Now is the time to act.”

Friends of the Earth divestment campaigner Deirdre Duff said:

“It’s astonishing that councils across the UK are continuing to invest vast sums of money in climate-wrecking fossil fuels through their pension funds. With urgent action needed to tackle the climate change crisis our local authorities should be doing far more on this issue.

“Council pension funds should pull their cash out of coal, gas and oil and invest in the new technologies that are already helping to build a cleaner, safer future.”

Platform campaigner Sarah Shoraka said:

“Local councils are gambling with our future. By continuing to heavily invest in companies like BP and Shell, local authorities are risking the future of our pensions and our climate.

“Council pension funds have an opportunity to invest instead in things communities really need: affordable housing, public transport, and publicly owned renewable energy. Councils must divest to secure pensions and invest in our future.”

Ellen Gibson, Divestment Campaigner with 350.org, said:

“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.”

Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland Divestment Campaigner, said:

“Scotland’s councils are ignoring the realities of climate change. Their investments in deeply destructive fossil fuel companies fly in the face of Scotland’s wider efforts to phase out fossil fuel cars and ban fracking.

“Fossil fuel companies won’t be talked into dropping their core business of digging oil, gas and coal out of the ground. Councillors who oversee these funds need to take action to make their pension funds compatible with a future worth living in by divesting.”

Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor in UNISON Scotland and National Executive Committee member for UNISON, says:

Our priority always needs to be to ensure our member’s pensions are protected. We are increasingly aware that investments in fossil fuels are not only harmful to the environment but put the sustainable future of our pensions at risk.

“We have made progress with a few pension funds taking the steps towards divestment. We need to wake the rest up before our pensions are put at risk with investments that will lose value as governments take steps to reduce the use of fossil fuels.”

Coverage:

Press Releases

July 4, 2019

SADIQ KHAN JOINS MPs IN CALLING ON PARLIAMENT TO DROP FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENTS

For immediate release 
Contact: tytus.murphy@350.org and 07908 819 691

SADIQ KHAN JOINS MPs IN CALLING ON PARLIAMENT TO DROP FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENTS

The Mayor of London joins a cross party group of over 270 serving and former MPs calling on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to phase out its substantial investment in fossil fuel giants such as Shell and BP, following growing concerns about the climate crisis.

 Sadiq Khan joins a group of over 270 serving and former cross party MPs who have signed the Divest Parliament Pledge, which calls on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to phase out investments in fossil fuel companies [1]. The call follows mounting public concern about the environmental, social and financial risks posed by the climate crisis [2].

More than two thirds of London MPs have signed the pledge including Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn [3], Liberal Democrat Ed Davey and Conservative Justine Greening. The largest individual holding of the MPs Pension Fund (£11.68m) is in BP PLC [4]. Since 2010, BP has dedicated only 1% of its spending to renewable energy [5] and fossil fuel companies have failed to support a legally binding Net Zero emissions target [6].

In 2018, the Mayor of London declared a “Climate Emergency” in London, a move that has recently been replicated in Parliament. Supporting divestment from fossil fuels across London has been a key part of the Mayor’s plans to tackle the climate emergency. Following his manifesto commitment to take all possible steps to divest the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) from fossil fuels, the Mayor has worked with the LPFA to develop a comprehensive climate change policy that includes divestment. The LPFA last year rid itself of over £700,000 of fossil fuel investments, including stakes in Coal India, Shell and BP, and as of 31 March 2019 LPFA’s holdings in extractive fossil fuels have reduced to £22.8m or 0.4% of assets. The Mayor has also called on all London Boroughs to phase out fossil fuel investments from their pension funds and scale up green investment, and together with the Mayor of New York established a global network on divestment for cities to learn best practice from London [7].

Sadiq Khan, Major of London and former MP for Tooting, said: “Since becoming Mayor I have repeatedly stressed the importance of divesting pension funds from fossil fuels to address the climate emergency. I have worked with the London Pension Fund Authority to support their adoption of a climate policy, have called on boroughs to divest, and established a global network, with New York, which is already seeing other cities commit to divestment.  I would encourage all London MPs to act now and join our call for the Parliamentary Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels.”

Helen Hayes, Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood said: “Local authorities like Southwark and Lambeth, and the Mayor of London are showing the political leadership required to tackle the climate crisis by phasing out fossil fuels from their pension funds. Parliament must now follow suit and start bringing in policies that are compliant with net zero emissions. This requires keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and introducing long term policies that ensure clean energy can flourish.”    

Ellen Gibson, UK Organiser at 350.org, said: “While our climate begins to unravel with fatal heatwaves and devastating flooding, BP and Shell continue to invest billions fuelling this crisis. At a time of climate breakdown, it is unacceptable for political leaders to be investing in or supporting policy that promotes the fossil fuel industry. We are encouraged that the Mayor of London is backing up the ‘Climate Emergency’ rhetoric with action to divest from fossil fuels. We need a Green New Deal: this will rapidly reduce emissions, create millions of green jobs and bring about clean air in cities across the world”.

If successful, the campaign would see Parliament joining the Irish National Infrastructure Fund, the New York State Pension fund, London local authorities such as Islington and Southwark, LPFA and two thirds of UK universities in committing to fossil fuel divestment [8]. Today, the National Trust became the latest high profile organisation to commit to divesting endowment from fossil fuel companies [9].

END

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 [1] Pledge text available here and full list of supportive MPs available here. The campaign asks the Pension Fund to ‘quantify, review and disclose its investments in carbon-intensive industries, engage in a dialogue with fund members and publicly commit to phasing out fossil fuel investments over an appropriate time-scale.’

[2] A YouGov poll conducted between 29-30 April showed that 24% of those surveyed put the environment among their top issues facing the country. An April poll by Opinium reported that 63% as agreeing – including 25% strongly agreeing – with the statement: “We are facing a climate emergency.”

[3] Jeremy Corbyn becomes the 100th MP to sign the pledge, coverage in The Financial Times.

[4] According to the 2018 report, the largest holding of the Parliamentary Contribution Pensions Fund is in BP Plc (£11.68m). The fund also contains holdings in Royal Dutch Shell Plc (£10.95m).

[5] The Carbon Disclosure Project have revealed that on average, fossil fuel companies allocate just 1.3 per cent of their total 2018 capital expenditure to clean energy projects, coverage in The Financial Times.

[6] Royal Dutch Shell, BP and British Gas’s owner, Centrica, have all publicly supported EU emissions reductions, but none supported the Brussels proposals for a Net Zero by 2050 target during official consultation, coverage in The Guardian.

[7] Progress of the London Pension Fund Authority on its divestment commitment is found in this briefing note provided to MPs ahead of the recent Westminster Hall Debate on the financial and ethical risks posed by fossil fuel companies to pension funds.

[8] To date, over 1000 institutions across the globe – representing funds worth over $8 trillion – have made some form of divestment commitment. Full list of commitments available here.

[9] The National Trust commits to divesting its £1bn portfolio from fossil fuel companies within 3 years – see press release.

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