500 signatures reached
To: Avon pension fund board of trustees proposing:
A CALL TO DIVEST AVON PENSION FUND FROM FOSSIL FUELS
• Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels
• Divestment from direct ownership and any commingled funds
that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds
within 5 years
Why is this important?
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.
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