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

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  • 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

February 6, 2018

Paris explores climate lawsuit against fossil fuel companies

Paris, France — The City of Paris decided today to explore possibilities to sue the fossil fuel industry for causing climate damages, following the example of New York and other US cities.

The city council also decided to lobby other major cities such as London to ban fossil fuels from their investments through the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, of which the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo is president. The council also announced that it will release an update on the progress that has been made since it pledged to divest from fossil fuels in 2015.

“It’s fantastic news that cities like New York and Paris are stepping up to protect their citizens and hold fossil fuel corporations accountable for the harm they cause. This is a major breakthrough for divestment campaigners around the world that have been pushing cities to take a stand against the polluters wrecking our climate,” comments 350.org France Campaigner Clémence Dubois. Fossil fuel companies like Total, Shell, BP, and Exxon are the driving forces behind more and more severe flooding and summer heat waves in Paris, as well as droughts, wildfires, unpredictable seasons and rising sea levels hitting people across the globe.”

This winter, Paris has been hit once more by severe flooding, which the mayor said was, alongside recent summer heat waves ‘clearly a question of the town adapting to climate change’. Studies found that the flooding that submerged Paris in May 2016 was made almost twice as likely by human-made climate change.

On 10th January, the mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio announced that the city will divest its $191 billion pension funds from fossil fuels and that it has filed a lawsuit against BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips for climate damages.

The moves by New York and Paris, paired with mayor Hidalgo’s pledge to increase efforts to persuade other major cities to divest, raises the pressure on the London where mayor Sadiq Khan has so far disappointed campaigners to take a strong stand against the fossil fuel industry and deliver on his election pledge to divest London City Hall.

Major cities such as Sydney and Cape Town as well as numerous European capitals including Berlin, Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm have already pledged to ban fossil fuels from their investments.

The divestment campaign to get public institutions to cut their financial ties to the fossil fuel industry started in 2012 with the aim to erode public acceptance for the companies most responsible for causing the climate crisis. To date, over 800 institutions including universities, faith and medical groups, the heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune have taken steps to divest.

Building on these achievements, the Fossil Free campaign is gearing up to launch a new wave of local action around the world to keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate the shift to community-controlled renewable energy.

“The Fossil Free movement is taking things to the next level in 2018,” said May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director. “Building off the global fossil fuel divestment movement, which successfully led over 800 institutions to divest over $6 trillion in assets from fossil fuel companies, we’re kicking into high-gear supporting local campaigns around the world working towards a world free from fossil fuels and enacting a swift and fair transition towards renewable energies for all. It is high time for governments worldwide to follow the people’s demand for a fossil free world.”

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

In Paris: Clémence Dubois, 350.org France Campaigner, clemence@350.org, +33 6 4271 3175

 

Notes to editor

The full text of the motion (in French) can be found here.

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