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 / [email protected]

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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

September 9, 2019

DUP MPs CALL FOR END TO FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENTS

Contact: [email protected] & 07746 315 316 (John Hardy, Divest Parliament campaigner)

Photos: Free photos to use available to download herein.

DUP MPs CALL FOR END TO FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENTS 

Half of the DUP MPs call on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to phase out its substantial investment in fossil fuel giants such as Shell and BP, following growing concerns about climate crisis.

[Northern Ireland, UK] Emma Little-Pengelly, MP for South Belfast and Nigel Dodds, MP for North Belfast have become the latest MPs to sign the Divest Parliament Pledge, joining more than 290 cross party MPs calling on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to review and phase out investments in fossil fuel companies [1]. The campaign has previously been supported by Gavin Robinson, Jim Shannon and David Simpson of the DUP, and independent MP Lady Hermon.

Emma Little Pengelly, MP South Belfast, said: “People are increasingly aware of the impact our actions have on the environment and want action to prevent further damage. I believe it is the prudent and responsible thing to do for Parliament to lead by example and take actions such as divesting parliament of investments in fossil fuels”.  

Nigel Dodds, Deputy Leader for the DUP and MP for North Belfast, said, “My constituents have made it clear that they care about climate change and we believe that divestment is the best way to show leadership on this issue. I am very pleased to support this campaign and that I am joined by several of my  colleagues in the DUP”.

The campaign was started in 2014 by a small group of MPs, including the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. Their first success was to pressure the trustees of the MPs Pension Fund to disclose its investments, revealing that the largest individual holding is in BP PLC [2,3]. On average, fossil fuel companies dedicate only 1% of their spending to clean energy projects [4].

If successful, the campaign would see Parliament joining the Irish National Infrastructure Fund, the New York State Pension fund, local authorities such as Waltham Forest and Southwark and two thirds of UK universities in committing to fossil fuel divestment. The Church of Ireland have announced that they will no longer invest in fossil fuels, while the Northern Ireland Assembly Pension Fund have agreed to review their investments [5].

John Hardy, Divest Parliament campaigner from Belfast said: “2019 has seen communities all across world upended by extreme weather as our shared climate begins to unravel. The science is clear that fossil fuels have caused this, so we cannot continue to fund oil and gas companies which are fuelling climate breakdown. It is encouraging to see the DUP MPs backing the move away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy solutions that will positively bring about green jobs, clean air and the best chance of reducing the impacts of climate change”.

 

ENDS 

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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] In March 2017, it was revealed that the MPs Pension Fund invests in fossil fuels, tobacco and tax avoiders, coverage in The Independent.

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

[4] A recent report by Carbon Disclosure Project revealed that on average, fossil fuel companies allocate just 1.3 per cent of their total 2018 capital expenditure to green energy projects, coverage in The Financial Times.

[5] 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. Coverage in the Irish Times herein regarding the Church of Ireland’s decision to divest from fossil fuels.

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