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

September 3, 2018

UK COUNCILS INVEST £9 BILLION IN FRACKING INDUSTRY

EMBARGOED: 00:01AM, 3rd SEPTEMBER 2018

CONTACT: Emma Hughes, emma@platformlondon.org, 07801140192

*** Issued by Platform London, 350.org and Friends of the Earth ***

DATA REVEALS UK COUNCILS INVEST MORE THAN £9 BILLION IN FRACKING INDUSTRY

Data released today reveals that UK councils invest over £9 billion in fracking companies through council pension funds [1]. The Greater Manchester Pension Fund invests the largest amount in the global fracking industry,  almost £1 billion. This is nearly double the amount of the next highest pension fund, West Yorkshire with just over half a billion. The councils with the highest percentage of their pension funds invested in fracking are Dumfries and Galloway, Greater Manchester and the London Borough of Merton,  each with about 6-7% of the total fund invested in fracking companies. The news comes as the fracking industry is poised to drill for gas for the first time in seven years in the UK.

With councils ploughing billions into fracking companies, questions are being asked as to why councils are investing in this industry when UK public support for fracking is consistently low [2]. Many councils have voted against fracking developments in their areas, but council-run funds remain invested in the industry [3]. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fracking has effectively halted, but Councils there still oversee pension funds investing heavily in fracking companies.

The companies that councils are investing in include BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips. These companies are fracking in places like Argentina, Canada and Australia. BP, one of the companies involved, does not frack in the UK to avoid ‘the wrong type of attention’ but has huge fracking operations abroad [4].  

Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston Council. commented:

“It’s disappointing to see local authority pension funds being invested in the fracking industry. Fracking destroys local landscapes, threatens communities and fuels climate change across the globe. Council pension funds should be going to support clean fossil free energy which will secure a good return for members and help tackle climate change.”

Sakina Sheikh, Divestment Campaigner with Platform commented:

“The devastating fires and record temperatures this summer have brought the impacts of climate change home. Neither local communities nor our climate can afford for the fracking industry to win. Our councils are providing everyday support to the frackers, it’s time to stop. It’s time to divest from fossil fuels.”

Deirdre Duff, divestment campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said;

“UK councils should know better than to invest in fracking companies. These companies are inflicting their fracking operations on communities around the world, and this can have significant impacts.”

“Many UK councils have rightly opposed fracking in their own area – however it is shocking that they still support the global fracking industry. We should remember too that the climate change caused by fracking will affect us all, no matter where the fracking is conducted.”

The data is released by 350.org, Platform and Friends of the Earth. It ranks council-run pension funds by their investments in companies involved in fracking. Full divestment commitments have so far been made by two UK council pension funds, with a further five making partial commitments [5]. The campaign to divest local council pensions has received backing from Unison and the TUC [6].  Across the world 905 institutions, with total investments valued at $6.24 trillion USD, have committed to divest from fossil fuels [7].


CONTACT: Emma Hughes, emma@platformlondon.org, 07801140192

NOTES

  1. Actual amount is £9,075, 754, 081. To view the full national data set and for more information, visit: gofossilfree.org/uk/divest-fracking
  2. See information in recent Drill or Drop article: https://drillordrop.com/2018/08/16/question-on-attitudes-to-fracking-dropped-from-government-survey/
  3. See Drill or Drop for summary of recent council decisions on onshore drilling applications: https://drillordrop.com/rig-watch/
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/feb/04/bp-shale-gas-drilling
  5. 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
  6. Read more on Unison’s decision on Platform’s blog. View the text of the TUC motion – adopted unanimously – on the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy website
  7. https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/commitments/

ENDS

FacebookTwitter