April 13, 2016

UK Councils Invest Millions in Bankrupt Peabody Energy

Peabody Energy – the world’s largest private coal company – today filed for bankruptcy, becoming the 50th US-based coal firm to go bankrupt since 2012. The announcement adds weight to campaigners calling to divest the UK’s public pension funds from fossil fuels, as they stand to lose millions from these investments.

Six local government pension funds in the UK – Barnet, West Midlands, Croydon, Buckinghamshire, Kent and Teeside – currently invest over £2.6 million in Peabody Energy, investments which are sure to plummet in value after today’s announcement.

Ellen Gibson, UK Divestment Campaigner commented;

“Our councils stand to lose millions of pounds of workers’ money through these reckless investments in a dying industry, as well as propping up the companies responsible for the climate crisis. It’s time they wake up to the risks of fossil fuel investments and divest.”

Research released last September detailed that local government pension funds in the UK invest over £14 billion in the fossil fuel industry. A number of pension funds –  including the Environment Agency and Haringey Council – have already divested from coal, citing financial risk, legal duty to fund members and the necessity of action on climate change.

May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director, commented on the announcement;

“Institutions around the world are divesting from coal companies like Peabody because they see the writing on the wall: the fossil fuel age is coming to an end.

“As we repower our economy with 100% renewable energy we must repower our communities, as well. That includes a just transition for Peabody’s employees and all workers in the fossil fuel industry. Peabody shouldn’t take these communities down with them.”

The bankruptcy announcement also comes just weeks before a global wave of direct action and civil disobedience is planned to take on the fossil fuel industry directly.

In Europe, two ‘Break Free’ actions are planned targeting the coal industry – Reclaim the Power’s End Coal Now action camp aiming to shut down the UK’s largest mine, and Ende Gelaende, targeting the Lusatian coal fields in Germany.

Comment from May Boeve originally printed on the 350.org website here.