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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    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 2 3 4 5 6
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  • Divest Brent Council from Fossil Fuels
    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 literally 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. References: [0] [1] [2] [3] [4]
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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. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. & 7. 8.
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  • Suffolk County Council: Divest from fossil fuel
    Suffolk County Council says it wants to be the “Greenest county” yet its latest pension fund figures (September 2015) showed it had £11 million worth of Shell shares – 5% of its total holding in UK shares. Campaign groups estimate that in 2014 it held in total £117 million worth of fossil fuel assets. [1] All local authorities in Suffolk contribute to this pension fund, including Ipswich Borough Council, Waveney District Council, Suffolk Coastal District Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Mid Suffolk District Council, Forest Heath District Council and Babergh District Council Investing in fossil fuel creates a risk both to members of the pension fund and to the planet. Respected financial analysts warn that fossil fuel companies are likely to be over-valued due to their reliance on reserves in the ground which will become worthless if carbon legislation comes into effect. [2] Only a fraction of fossil fuel companies' reserves may be extracted and burned whilst keeping within the 2°C climatic warming target agreed by the world's Governments at international climate negotiations. [3] Suffolk should sell its fossil fuel investments and follow the example of several other local authorities who have invested cash in local sustainable projects such renewable energy, energy efficiency or building much needed energy efficient social homes. This blog by Friends of the Earth Scotland gives some examples. This would provide local jobs, a stronger local economy and reliable long term, low risk returns for the pension fund. [1] [2] [3]
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  • Divest West Midlands Pension Fund From Fossil Fuels
    Climate change is already causing massive destruction around the world. For the sake of all of our futures, we need to move away from fossil fuels and begin the transition to a clean and just energy economy, now. Many of the fossil fuel companies that West Midlands Pension Fund invests in have a poor environmental record, including ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, spilled 11 million gallons of oil off the coast of Alaska and plans to drill in the Russian Arctic with Rosneft. BP, another West Midlands Pension Fund investment, was responsible for the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico. Fossil fuel companies are also highly overvalued due to the assumption that all of their reserves will be burnt. But as policy catches up to climate realities, this overvaluation means there’s a multi-trillion dollar “carbon bubble” that’s poised to burst. This will greatly effect the value of our pensions if West Midlands continues to invest in fossil fuels. We know that 80% of current fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to prevent runaway climate change. We must act now!
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  • STOP Kent County Council Investing in Dangerous 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 to both investors and the planet. Kent County Council has £267488689 invested in fossil fuels. No challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than climate change. We are already seeing more extreme weather events around the world, people being forced to migrate due to flooding or crop failure, and spring flowers blooming in the UK in November! Over 97% of scientists now agree that climate change is fuelled by the burning of fossil fuels (1). This causes problems both worldwide and within Kent, where we will see increasing areas of low lying land become prone to flooding. Institutions around the world including local government, universities and churches are pulling out of fossil fuels investments and moving towards a cleaner energy future. (2). It's now time to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in a better future, Financial research has called into question the valuation of fossil fuel companies due to their reliance on reserves which would become unburnable if international carbon legislation comes into effect. Divestment from fossil fuels would minimise the council's exposure to the financial risk of the 'carbon bubble', whereby shareholders risk being left with 'stranded assets' (worthless fuels stocks that regulations will prevent from being burned.) Although KCC Statement of Investment Principles for the Superannuation Fund (3) states that 'the fund will not impose restrictions upon our external fund managers' later goes on to say that 'as a member of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change we will monitor developments on climate change and use the research undertaken to monitor and challenge our investment managers.' For the sake of future generations, the people of Kent and the whole planet, the time has now come to challenge these investment managers. 1. 2. 3.
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  • Devon County Council - Divest from Fossil Fuels
    Pensions are about giving us a secure future. But our future security is fundamentally threatened by climate change. Our pension funds should not be invested in oil, gas and coal companies when we know we must leave 80% of all fossil fuels in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. Our local authorities have a duty to look after the public good. Fossil fuels are in direct conflict with the public good: investing in them poses a risk both to pension members and to the planet. So the Councils of Devon 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. Divestment from fossil fuels would make a powerful statement that the fossil fuel industry is morally and economically unviable, and that the people of Devon 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.
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  • Divest Greenwich Council From Fossil Fuel Investments
    The Greenwich Pension Fund has around £17 million invested directly in fossil fuel companies and more invested indirectly (i.e. commingled) [1]. Such investments carry a high degree of risk on ethical, financial and scientific grounds and the Pension Fund’s investments therefore expose the people of Greenwich to those risks. Hundreds of institutions around the globe have already committed to divesting more than £31 billion from fossil fuel companies, and the Greenwich Pension Fund can add significantly to this movement [2]. 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 [3]. Available evidence indicates that fossil fuel companies intend to burn enough reserves to push global warming far above 2°C, as they insist even on searching for further reserves, often in the globe’s most ecologically sensitive areas [4]. 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded and the 20 hottest years have all occurred since 1981, bringing increases in extreme weather events, flooding, droughts and other calamities [5, 6]. Fossil fuel companies have also been actively disruptive to political efforts at limiting global warming through intensive political lobbying and the funding of disinformation campaigns [7]. If it is wrong to continue to wreck the Earth’s climate, then it follows that it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. There are also increasing indications that the profitability of the fossil fuel industry will decrease significantly in coming years. If action is taken to limit global warming and a large degree of carbon reserves are left in the ground, shares in fossil fuel companies will drop significantly in value [8]. As such, pension funds currently investing in fossil fuels risk exposure to this 'carbon bubble', while there is already evidence that fossil fuel-free portfolios are capable of out-performing those including fossil fuel investments [9]. For in depth analyses of these and related risks, see: References: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]
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  • DivestSurrey
    The Surrey Pension Fund now has £145 million invested directly in climate wrecking fossil fuels. The United Nations has recently warned us that we have just 12 years to urgently cut our CO2 emissions or face an eco system melt down. In short we face the most awful consequences if we continue to financially support this industry. Please help us persuade the Surrey pension Fund to remove these investments by signing up to our campaign.
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  • Divest Derbyshire
    1. Derbyshire County Council Pension Fund has £290 million invested in fossil fuel industries, including Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Rio Tinto. Fossil fuel industries make up nearly 6% of the pension fund. 2. The pension fund affects over 170 employers in Derbyshire including Derbyshire County Council, all the borough and District Councils in Derbyshire [1]; Derby City Council; Chesterfield College; Derby College; Derbyshire Fire Authority; Derbyshire Police Authority; Peak District National Park Authority; University of Derby and a large group of smaller employers. 3. 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are the primary cause of recent climate change, largely due to the release of greenhouse gases from the combustion of oil, coal and gas for heat and power. Climate change is happening now - we’re already experiencing global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets and more frequent and intense extreme weather events. [2] Whole ecosystems are threatened, and people's lives are at risk due to flooding, food and water insecurity, creating climate change refugees. [3] 4. In order to stop the global climate warming by 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and avert global catastrophe, 80% of all known fossil fuels must stay in the ground. [4] By removing investments in fossil fuel companies Derbyshire County Council will be showing its commitment to creating a healthy, sustainable future for both the people of Derbyshire and the planet as a whole. 5. There is also a financial argument to divest from fossil fuels. The need and growing political pressure to leave as much of our fossil fuels in the ground make the risk of stranded assets (worthless fuel stocks that regulation will prevent from being burned) very real. [5] At the same time it is becoming more expensive both to find and to extract the remaining fuel deposits, while, renewable energy technology is becoming more efficient and less expensive. [6]. Both of these factors create risks for investors. People and institutions that own shares in fossil fuel companies will see the value of their investments decrease. [7,8] 6. Institutions across the world including churches and universities, the Environment Agency [9] as well as local authorities in the UK such as Bristol City Council and Oxford City Council have already committed to divest from fossil fuels. [10] Let's see Derbyshire join them in making this small but impactful commitment. This petition is supported by the following Derbyshire organisations (in alphabetical order): Amber Valley Against Fracking; Calow Against Gas Extraction (CAGE); Chesterfield and District TUC; Chesterfield Climate Alliance; Clay Cross Against Fracking; Creswell Against Fracking; Derby Climate Coalition; Eckington Against Fracking; Glossopdale Transition Initiative; Melbourne Area Transition; Sustainable Edale; Sustainable Hayfield; Transition Belper; Transition Buxton; Transition Chesterfield; Transition Hope Valley; Transition Matlock; Transition New Mills. Transition Wirksworth; University of Derby Students’ Union. Please let us know if you would like your group to be added to this list. A hard copy of this petition can be downloaded from Notes [1] Amber Valley Borough Council; Bolsover District Council; Chesterfield Borough Council; Derby City Council; Derbyshire Dales District Council; Erewash Borough Council;; High Peak Borough Council; North East Derbyshire District Council; South Derbyshire District Council [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]
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