Fossil Free UK - Local Government

Public money shouldn’t be funding an industry that undermines our future. Municipalities around the world have already committed to divest - it’s about time that yours did too!

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Campaigns (53)

  • Divest the Greater Manchester Pension Fund
    Pensions are about giving us a secure future. But our future security is fundamentally threatened by climate change. Our pension funds should not be investing in oil, gas and coal firms when we know we must leave 80% of all fossil fuels in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. We welcome the decision that you made last year to divest from tobacco companies because of their impact on the people of Greater Manchester, and urge you to take a similar approach with fossil fuel companies.
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    Created by Ellen Gibson
  • Divest the London Pension Fund from Fossil Fuels
    Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, supports divestment! http://www.sadiq.london/a_greener_cleaner_london Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has encountered. Warming in excess of 1.5°C will have catastrophic consequences [1]. In order to have a chance of staying below this temperature rise, 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must not be burnt [2]. The fossil fuel industry currently holds vast carbon reserves which if burnt would result in emissions 5 times larger than what it is deemed to be safe [2]. All available evidence suggests that fossil fuel companies intend to burn the reserves within their control. In addition, companies such as Shell are actively trying to discover new reserves, often in environmentally sensitive regions [3]. If it is wrong to damage the world we live in, then it is wrong to profit from that damage. Responsible investors should no longer be profiting from the destructive activities of these companies. The London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) manages the pensions of City Hall employees (including the Mayor of London and the London Assembly) as well as many other local authorities [4]. It manages nearly £5 billion worth of assets, millions of which are direct investments in fossil fuel companies including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Shell [5]. Indirect investments total £54.6 million. These fossil fuel investments are becoming increasingly risky as the cost of extraction increases and international treaties restrict the use of fossil fuels [2]. Not only does it make moral sense not to invest in the destruction of our planet, it also makes financial sense. By divesting from fossil fuels, City Hall will join public institutions such as the British Medical Association, Glasgow University and Oxford City Council, amongst many others, in leading by example to help create a sustainable future for the citizens of London and beyond. So we ask: 1. The London Pensions Fund Authority (LPFA) to: - Immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies, including those made by externally managed and pooled funds. - Offer a fossil free pension option to employees - Divest from the top 200 companies with the largest known carbon reserves (oil, gas and coal), and shift these funds to lower risk, ethical investments within 5 years 2. The Mayor and the London Assembly must be transparent about their relationship with the fossil fuel industry: - Publish full details of their financial and other ties to the fossil fuel industry - Not accept sponsorship and advertising from fossil fuel companies. - Declare their divestment from the fossil fuel industry in order to encourage other pension funds, institutions and individuals to do the same. References [1]http://bit.ly/1Cp61vN [2]http://bit.ly/1mLPo58 [3]http://bit.ly/1r2Y2Qb [4]http://www.lpfa.org.uk/Who-we-are.aspx [5]http://bit.ly/1z8u53U
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    Created by Divest London
  • Divest Hackney Council from fossil fuels
    Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has encountered. Warming in excess of 2°C will have catastrophic consequences [1]. In order to have a chance of staying below this maximum upper limit of warming 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must not be burnt [2]. The fossil fuel industry currently holds vast carbon reserves which if burnt would result in emissions 5 times larger than what it is deemed to be safe [2]. All available evidence suggests that fossil fuel companies intend to burn the reserves within their control. In addition, companies such as Shell are actively trying to discover new reserves, often in environmentally sensitive regions [3]. If it is wrong to damage the world we live in, then it is wrong to profit from that damage. Responsible investors should no longer be profiting from the destructive activities of these companies. Hackney Council's pension fund currently has £42m invested in fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell [4]. This is at odds with the council's stated commitment to reduce the borough's contribution to climate change and to reduce its emissions by 80% by 2050. Hackney Council exists to serve the people of the borough, and it must therefore acknowledge the significant risks that fossil fuel investments pose to local residents' financial security and future quality of life. Hackney Council should take a moral, political and economic stand by divesting our money from fossil fuel companies and choosing investments less at risk from climate change legislation and more compatible with our values. Divestment from fossil fuels would make a powerful statement that the fossil fuel industry is morally and economically unviable, and that the people of Hackney wish to support an alternative, sustainable energy future. Recent financial studies have shown that divestment from fossil fuels may have a small positive effect on investment portfolios in the short term [5]. Moreover, in the long term these fossil fuel investments will become increasingly risky as the cost of extraction increases and international treaties restrict the use of fossil fuels [2]. Not only does it make moral sense not to invest in the destruction of our planet, it also makes financial sense. It is illogical to allow pension funds to endanger those whose futures they seek to protect. By divesting from fossil fuels, Hackney Council will join public institutions such as the British Medical Association, Glasgow University, Stanford University, Oxford City Council, Bristol City Council, Oslo, amongst many others, in leading by example to help create a sustainable future for the citizens of Hackney and beyond [6]. References [1]http://bit.ly/1wqelqp [2]http://bit.ly/1s9QgyC [3]http://bit.ly/1r2Y2Qb [4]http://bit.ly/1DUM1l5 [5]http://bit.ly/13D9fwr [6]http://bit.ly/12xCgZg
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  • Divest East Sussex Pension Fund from Fossil Fuels
    Our local authority has a responsibility not to invest local people's funds in outdated, polluting industries, such as fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), that are damaging the balance of our climate and threatening our way of life. Already, we are seeing a greater frequency of extreme weather events, such as the floods of 2013/14 – the wettest winter in England and Wales since 1776 - which caused severe flooding in East Sussex and exposed our coast to very high storm surges from the sea. Investments in fossil fuels are also financially risky. Global temperature targets agreed by world leaders can only be met if most of the existing fossil fuel reserves remain unburned and we quickly move to cleaner technology. This means that investments in fossil fuel companies could soon become ‘stranded assets’. Indeed, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has warned that investors face 'potentially huge' losses from climate change action that could make vast reserves of oil, coal and gas 'literally unburnable' For reasons of both public responsibility and financial prudence, a growing number of major institutions across the world - including the cities of Oslo, Seattle, and Oxford, Glasgow University, and the World Council of Churches - have already decided to move their funds out of fossil fuels. Several UK local authorities, including Haringey Council and the South Yorkshire Pension Fund, are now taking similar steps. The East Sussex Pension Fund has an estimated £172 million of local people's pensions invested in fossil fuels. The Fund is administered by East Sussex County Council. On 13 April 2016, Labour and Conservative Councillors on Hastings Borough Council – a member of the Pension Fund - joined forces to pass a unanimous motion calling on East Sussex County Council to divest the Fund from fossil fuels. It's time for East Sussex County Council to divest local people's pensions from these dirty, damaging and financially risky industries.
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  • Divest Oxfordshire from fossil fuels
    Our local authority has a duty to look out for the public good. Fossil fuels are in direct conflict with the public good: investing in them poses a risk both to investors and to the planet. So Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council should take a moral, political and economic stand against them by taking our money away from fossil fuel companies and putting it into investments that are less at risk from climate change legislation and more compatible with our values. Divestment from fossil fuels would make a powerful statement that the fossil fuel industry is morally and economically unviable, and that the people of Oxfordshire wish to support an alternative, sustainable energy future that will leave the planet in a shape that allows us, our children and grandchildren to live safely on it. Financial research has called into question the valuations of fossil fuel companies due to their reliance on reserves which may become unburnable if carbon legislation comes into effect.
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  • Divest West Yorkshire Pension Fund from Fossil Fuel Investments
    Over 5% of WYPF's investments are in fossil fuel companies, including £207 million invested in BP and £171 million invested in Royal Dutch Shell. [1] Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has encountered. Warming in excess of 2°C will have catastrophic consequences. In order to have a chance of staying below this maximum upper limit of warming 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must not be burnt. Recent research, instigated by the Carbon Tracker foundation, asserts that there are five times more fossil-fuel reserves than can be burnt if internationally agreed carbon emissions targets are to be met. The fossil fuel industry currently holds vast carbon reserves which if burnt would result in emissions 5 times larger than what it is deemed to be safe. All available evidence suggests that fossil fuel companies intend to burn the reserves within their control. In addition, companies such as Shell are actively trying to discover new reserves, often in environmentally sensitive regions. Fossil fuel equities also pose significant financial risks. As governments control carbon emissions to meet these targets a large proportion of fossil fuel reserves which companies expect to extract will become stranded assets: a “carbon bubble”. Funds which are exposed to fossil fuel equities when this bubble bursts can expect to suffer considerable losses. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney has recently expressed concerns over climate risk, stating that the “vast majority of reserves are unburnable” if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C.[2] [1} WYPF Valuation March 2014 [2] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/13/mark-carney-fossil-fuel-reserves-burned-carbon-bubble
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  • Divest Southwark Council’s Pension Fund from Fossil Fuel Investments
    Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has encountered. The 20 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1981 and 2014 was the hottest ever [2]. Higher average temperatures are directly linked to extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms. In the UK, January 2014 was the wettest in 250 years [3]. Scientists have unanimously concluded that these changes are a consequence of human activity, arising from the burning of fossil fuels [4]. Moreover, this activity has resulted in unprecedented levels of air pollution, now regarded as a major world killer [5]. In Southwark, over 100 people die prematurely each year owing to poor air quality [6]. If global warming is to have a chance of staying below a 2°C rise upon pre-industrial temperatures (a limit already considered dangerous), up to 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground [7]. All available evidence suggests that fossil fuel companies intend to burn the reserves within their control, taking us substantially over the 2°C limit [7]. Moreover, companies such as Shell are actively trying to discover new reserves, often in environmentally sensitive regions [8]. In addition, the fossil fuel industry has been a divisive influence in preventing meaningful legislation on climate change through their intensive lobbying of decision makers and funding of disinformation campaigns [9]. If it is wrong to damage the world we live in, then it is wrong to profit from that damage. Responsible investors should no longer be profiting from these destructive activities and legitimising this action through their tacit support of fossil fuel companies. Southwark’s investments in fossil fuel companies The Southwark Pension Fund consists of £1.2 billion worth of assets [10]. Based on publicly available metrics and the 2014/15 annual report for the Pension Fund, we have conservatively determined that at least £60.6 million pounds within this fund is invested in fossil fuel companies, including: Shell, BP, BHP Billiton, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total [10,11]. A recent authoritative financial analysis has demonstrated that across more than 6,000 pension and hedge funds, investors who divested from fossil fuel companies would have earned a 1.2% greater average return since 2010, when compared to conventional investors [12]. Moreover, in the long term these fossil fuel investments will become increasingly unprofitable as the cost of extraction and international treaties restrict the use of fossil fuels [7]. Not only does it make moral sense not to invest in the destruction of our planet, it is also financially prudent. Aligning Southwark’s investments with its values Southwark Council have been exemplary in supporting environmentally sustainable practices. For example, the borough has the highest percentage of Eco-Schools of any local authority in England [13] and in 2010 was awarded £4.35 million for a cavity wall insulation project in 5,000 council homes to both alleviate fuel poverty and reduce energy consumption [14]. Southwark Council has committed to reducing borough wide CO2 emissions by 22.4% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 and states “that energy should be supplied as much as possible from renewable sources on-site or locally. This is less wasteful and will reduce our reliance on remote sources of energy, including imported oil and gas” [15]. Continuing to invest in the fossil fuel industry contradicts the positive steps taken by Southwark Council to lower its environmental impacts. Southwark residents are at risk of climate change, including an increased risk of flooding and elevated levels of air pollution [16], as well as damage to the London economy [17]. It is illogical to allow pension funds to endanger those whose futures they seek to protect. The London Assembly recently passed a motion in favour of divestment and by divesting from fossil fuels, Southwark will join forward thinking institutions, including The British Medical Association, Glasgow University and City Councils such as Oxford and Bristol, amongst many others, in leading by example to help create a sustainable future for the citizens of Southwark and beyond. References [1] http://tinyurl.com/lmskfgk [2] http://tinyurl.com/n4dbbx8 [3] http://tinyurl.com/pw2c42v [4] http://tinyurl.com/3e3zv [5] http://tinyurl.com/pqgdd5q [6] http://tinyurl.com/m2pxrx2 [7] http://tinyurl.com/na7xywd [8] http://tinyurl.com/k5knzss [9] http://tinyurl.com/lswg6w7 [10] http://tinyurl.com/pezzajy [11] http://gofossilfree.org/uk/pensions/ [12] http://tinyurl.com/ls7vh24 [13] http://tinyurl.com/lzgwro4 [14] http://tinyurl.com/luwj97o [15] http://tinyurl.com/m5rlfwk [16] http://tinyurl.com/kttxfc5 [17] http://tinyurl.com/n467mgw
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  • A CALL TO DIVEST AVON PENSION FUND FROM FOSSIL FUELS
    There is strong evidence (1) that the impact on climate change of burning even the known reserves of fossil fuels will create an unsustainable environment for the generations to come, and untold suffering to countless living beings. This fact will impact negatively on the value of investments in the industries concerned with fossil fuel extraction. Using just the fossil fuel reserves listed on the world’s stock markets would be enough to take us beyond 2°C of global warming (2). This means that more than 80 per cent of the world's known coal reserves, 30 per cent of known oil and 50 per cent of gas reserves need to stay in the ground and drilling in the Arctic is out of the question if we're to stay below two degrees. Recent drops in the oil price add to the uncertainty surrounding fossil fuels and the financial viability of some extractions presenting opportunities to lessen our dependency on fossil fuels (3). In defiance of mainstream research evidence and international policy (4), fossil fuel companies continue to extract and burn as much carbon as possible to maximise their profits. Despite the very high probability of planetary disaster they show no intention of switching away from their core business model. Our local council has a responsibility to divest from an industry that’s destroying the very future for ourselves and for our children that personal investment in a pension seeks to enhance. Instead it should reinvest in solutions to climate change. We won’t see any political progress on climate change until we can weaken the power of the fossil fuel industry. Divestment for fossil fuel investments would also minimise the council's exposure to the financial risk of the 'carbon bubble', whereby shareholders risk being left with stranded assets (worthless fuel stocks that regulation will prevent from being burned). It is a paradox that pension funds providing income for the future should at the same time be investing in the fossil fuel industry which if left to its own devices will exploit more of the fossil fuel reserves than we can safely use! Institutions around the world including local government, universities and churches are pulling out of fossil fuel investments and moving towards a clean energy future (5) It's time to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy now for inescapable moral and economic reasons. Bristol City Council have recently agreed to make a commitment to no direct investments in the fossil fuel industry and globally over 30 cities and municipalities have already committed to divestment. At present Bristol City Council’s funds are not directly linked to the fossil fuel industry. However, the Avon Pension Fund does have significant fossil fuel investments and so Bristol City Council would need to work with adjoining councils within the Avon Pension Fund to freeze and withdraw those investments. Shareholders (including pension funds) have started to challenge Exxon, Shell and BP to show how their business model is compatible with a 2 degree temperature rise (6). Some argue that engaging with fossil fuel companies is a more effective tactic than divestment. But Jonathon Porritt, one of the UK’s most esteemed environmentalists who spent years working on sustainability projects with BP and Shell, earlier this year said engagement was now futile because “hydrocarbon supremacists” at the companies had successfully ousted reformers wanting to diversify into green energy. Divestment, therefore, seems to be an unavoidable step to halting the damage and suffering which will ensue unless timely action is taken. 1 http://350.org/about/science/ 2 http://math.350.org/ 3 http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530043.100-over-a-barrel-falling-oil-prices-and-the-environment.html http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029415.700-an-oil-crash-is-on-its-way-and-we-should-be-ready.html#.VNI0c9kgGc0 4 http://www.ipcc.ch/ 5 http://zerocarbonbritain.org/index.php/zcb-latest-report 6 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/21/bp-challenged-confront-climate-change-risk-by-shareholders
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  • Divest Somerset County Council Pension Fund from fossil fuels
    Somerset - on the front line of climate change. Climate Change has caused, and is predicted to cause, a much greater risk of flooding and extreme weather. After the devastating floods of the Somerset Levels in 2013 Somerset County Council saw the terrible impact of climate change first hand. The Council recognises the potential impacts of climate change yet its pension fund invests £121,505,000 in the very fossil fuel companies that are causing climate change ! Yes, 8.3% of the fund, the 10th highest % in the UK, invested in the problem ! We can't afford to burn 80% of the world’s coal, oil and gas reserves if we want to keep climate change below the 2oC 'tipping point'. As governments begin to regulate more closely (as we hope they will do more in Paris in December), policy changes and oversupply of crude oil globally will see the value of fossil fuels plummet, reserves will become 'stranded assets' and the share price will drop. This makes investing in fossil fuels increasingly risky for all stakeholders. Financial experts, including the Bank of England, Goldman Sachs, Standard and Poor's and AXA, have warned of the economic risk that climate change policies pose to fossil fuel companies. Somerset County Council needs to be ahead of the curve to safeguard the future pensions of all its shareholders. Somerset County Council recognises that it must do whatever it can to tackle climate change and it has a responsibility to divest from an industry that jeopardises the future of our planet. Yet the short term financial gain that the Pension Fund Committee hopes to achieve comes at the risk of financial loss and a cost to people and planet. We hope Somerset County County Council pension trustees are aware of September’s UNEP Finance Initiative Report, Fiduciary Duty in the 21st Century – which concludes that: "Failing to consider long-term investment value drivers, which include environmental, social and governance issues, in investment practice is a failure of fiduciary duty.” Instead of fossil fuel investment, SCC Pension Fund Committee should invest in solutions to climate change, investments that protect pensions and planet, joining The British Medical Association, Bristol City Council and Oxford City Council who have all recently agreed to make the commitment to no direct investment in the fossil fuel industry. Globally Somerset County Council would join over 400 institutions and 2000 individuals with an asset base of $2.6 trillion who are already divesting across the world. We note the Government’s current October proposals to ban Council divestment unless from an approved government list and we hope that the Committee has the courage to take action before the government dictates what investments should be made. --ENDS-- Please sign the petition and encourage others to do so. (1) http://math.350.org/ 350.org has revealed how much every UK council invests in fossil fuels. Petition from Cllr Shane Collins, Leader of the Green Group on Mendip Council, East Mendip Green Party, South Somerset Green Party.
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  • Divest Waltham Forest
    Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has encountered. Warming in excess of 2°C will have catastrophic consequences for the whole planet [1]. If global warming is to be limited to 2°C, a level already considered dangerous, up to 80% of known carbon reserves must be left in the ground [2] The fossil fuel industry currently holds vast carbon reserves, which, if burnt, would result in emissions 5 times larger than what it is deemed to be safe [3]. All available evidence suggests that fossil fuel companies intend to burn the reserves within their control [4]. In addition, companies such as Shell are actively trying to discover new reserves, often in environmentally sensitive regions [5]. Research conducted by Carbon Tracker shows that there has been an over-valuation of fossil fuel reserves held by fossil fuel companies. 2/3 of these fossil fuels must remain in the ground if countries are to meet internationally agreed targets. These fossil fuels are, in effect, unburnable, so therefore worthless, which will lead to massive market losses. This is the “Carbon Bubble”. [6] Fossil fuel-free investments are now outperforming more conventional fossil fuel investments. According to recent reports, fossil fuel-free investments “earned an average return of 1.2% more a year over the last five years” [7] when compared with fossil fuel investments. Waltham Forest Council exists to serve the people of the borough, and it should therefore acknowledge the significant risks that fossil fuel investments pose to local residents' financial security and future quality of life. The council should therefore take a moral, political and economic stand by divesting its money from fossil fuel companies and choosing investments less at risk from climate change legislation and more compatible with the local community’s values. Waltham Forest Council should use its money to reinvest in, and support development of, solutions to climate change. As Waltham Forest Council wishes to maximise its return on investment, there are many ethical (and fossil fuel-free) investment options that provide excellent financial returns. Divesting its money away from fossil fuels would make a powerful statement that the fossil fuel industry is morally and economically unviable, and that the people of Waltham Forest wish to support an alternative, sustainable energy future. By divesting from fossil fuels, Waltham Forest will join public institutions such as the British Medical Association, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Bristol City Council, Oxford City Council, and the Universities of Bedfordshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, and Warwick in leading by example to help create a sustainable future for the citizens of Waltham Forest and beyond. [8] Let's make Waltham Forest fossil-fuel free, and together, we can send a signal that we are ready to shift to an economy powered by renewable energy. References: 1. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf 2. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v517/n7533/full/nature14016.html 3. http://www.carbontracker.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Unburnable-Carbon-Full-rev2-1.pdf 4. http://www.carbontracker.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Unburnable-Carbon-Full-rev2-1.pdf 5. http://www.shell.com/global/future-energy/arctic/exploration-production.html 6. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/apr/19/carbon-bubble-financial-crash-crisis & http://www.carbontracker.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Unburnable-Carbon-Full-rev2-1.pdf 7. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/10/fossil-fuel-free-funds-out-performed-conventional-ones-analysis-shows 8. http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/
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