Friday 24 November 2017

Brent Council urged to end pension fund investment in Fossil Fuels - how you can support the campaign

Green Party London Assembly Members Caroline Russell and Sian Berry with Brent Green Simon Erskine

Climate change campaigners are urging Brent Council to take its money out of fossil fuels.

A new campaign group, Divest Brent, launched this week. The activists hope to put pressure on the Council to “divest” from the fossil fuel industry by withdrawing any money they have invested in companies involved in digging for or burning coal, oil and gas.


Recently published figures indicate that the Council has over £37 million invested in the fossil fuel industry through its pension fund.

Campaigner and Green Party activist Simon Erskine explained that the divestment movement had already scored many victories in recent years and has become a powerful method of forcing organisations to consider their contribution to human-made climate change.

He told Wembley Matters: 
It sends a message to the industry and it raises awareness of the issue.
People may not already be aware of where their money is going and might be concerned to learn they are helping to finance the fossil fuel industry.

Fossil fuels belong to the past; they are not the answer to climate change, they are the problem.

In the same way, people no longer want to invest in tobacco or the arms trade.
Earlier this month a protest was staged outside City Hall to call for the Greater London Authority to divest from fossil fuels. The London Assembly has already passed a motion requesting the London Mayor to do exactly that.

Organisations in the UK that have committed to fossil fuel divestment so far include Oxford and Bristol city councils, the University of Glasgow and the British Medical Association. A number of London Boroughs have also committed – including neighbouring borough, Hammersmith & Fulham.

Globally more than 800 institutions (from government, faith-based, philanthropic and educational organisations etc), representing well over $5 trillion in assets, have committed to divest.

Ali Warrington, another Divest Brent campaigner, said:
It’s really exciting to bring the fastest-growing divestment movement in history to Brent. We need to act locally and ensure our representatives do what’s right and invest ethically. The companies they’re investing in are creating devastating climate change, and are insecure investments financially.
To support the campaign sign the petition HERE and email, Facebook and Tweet your friends urging them to sign.

This is the petition:

Brent Council should divest its pension fund from fossil fuel companies to protect the people of Brent. So we ask Brent Council to make a public divestment statement committing the Brent Pension Fund to:

1. Immediately freeze any new investment in the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies with largest known carbon reserves (oil, coal and gas)
2. Divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds in the top 200 list and shift these funds to lower risk, ethical investments within 5 years
3. Advocate to other pension funds, including the London Pension Fund Authority and Local Government Pension Scheme members to do the same
4. To do the above in a timely manner - by setting up a working group to report back on a strategy to bring about divestment within three months from the submission of this petition

Why is this important?

We believe divestment from fossil fuels to be not only ethically and environmentally correct, but also financially prudent.

Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has encountered. The 20 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1981 and 2016 was the hottest ever [1]. Higher average temperatures are directly linked to extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms.
Scientists have unanimously concluded that these changes are a consequence of human activity, arising from the burning of fossil fuels [2]. Moreover, this activity has resulted in unprecedented levels of air pollution, now regarded as a major world killer [3].

In a speech at Lloyd’s of London in September 2015, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England said that by the time ‘climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late’. Carney warned investors that policies to address climate change ‘would render the vast majority of reserves ‘stranded’ – oil, gas and coal that will be literary unburnable’ [4].

In order to continue developing fossil fuel reserves – particularly in the difficult areas where the remaining reserves are located (including the Arctic, the mouth of the Amazon and tar sands in sensitive areas) the developing companies need investment – divestment is a way of cutting off the funds needed to carry out these damaging activities. It also sends a powerful signal to the companies and others that it is time to move away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.



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