To: Hackney Council Pensions Committee

Council Staff Demand Hackney Divest From Fossil Fuels

Council Staff Demand Hackney Divest From Fossil Fuels

As members of the Hackney Council Pension Fund, we call on Hackney Council to:

1. Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels made by Hackney Council Pension Fund or Hackney Council itself

2. Divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years

We trust Hackney to look after our future but their continued investment in fossil fuel companies is short-sighted and irresponsible. This is a Climate Emergency and Hackney needs to act like it. Join our call for Hackney to divest 100% from fossil fuels.

Why is this important?

Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has encountered. Warming in excess of 1.5°C will have catastrophic consequences for millions of people across the planet [1]. In order to have a chance of staying below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must not be burnt [2]. If we want to keep warming to 1.5°C, we must keep the majority of fossil fuels in the ground.

Yet, all available evidence suggests that fossil fuel companies intend to do just the opposite. They are determined to burn all the reserves within their control and look for even more oil, coal and gas. This burning would result in emissions five times larger than what it is deemed to be safe [3]. Hackney Council's Pension Fund currently has £75m invested in some of the biggest of these companies, including BP, Shell, Centrica, Rio Tinto and Exxon Mobil [4]. By investing in the fossil fuel industry, Hackney is attempting to profit from climate breakdown.

Hackney Council has a responsibility to ensure its investments are financially sustainable and provide for pensioners for decades to come. Investing in fossil fuels will not do this. Fossil fuel investments are becoming increasingly risky as the cost of extraction rises and increased action on climate threatens to leave oil, coal and gas assets stranded [5]. Furthermore, recent financial studies have shown that divesting from fossil fuels can result in the same if not actually better returns to the pension fund [6]. Simply put, there is no good reason to keep these oily investments. For investors interested in long-term stability, there is no future in fossil fuels.

Since 2012, investments equating to almost $8 trillion in assets from over 1,000 institutions have been divested worldwide [7]. These divestments come from the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest, Southwark, Islington, Lambeth and over 200 MPs from across the political spectrum who have pledged to Divest Parliament, including Hackney MPs Meg Hillier and Diane Abbott [8]. We welcomed Hackney Council’s 2017 commitment to decarbonise its investment portfolio by 50% over six years, but all of the most recent evidence points to the need for urgent and comprehensive action to reduce carbon emissions.

In 2019, we stand with Divest Hackney to demand that Hackney Council #DivestTheRest. The momentum is undeniable and for the residents of Hackney, London and the wider UK and world, there is no time to waste. We want 2019 to be the year that Hackney Council finally commits to stop investing millions of pounds of our money in climate breakdown and commits to 100% divestment from planet-wrecking fossil fuels that endanger our future. Hackney Council had declared a Climate Emergency [9]. Now they need to put their money, our future, and our pensions where their mouth is.

[1] https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
[2] https://www.carbontracker.org/wasted-capital-and-stranded-assets-press-release/
[3] Ibid.
[4] https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/updated_fossil_fuel_investments
[5] https://www.carbontracker.org/wasted-capital-and-stranded-assets-press-release/
[6] https://www.msci.com/documents/10199/c75b5c93-1f22-4393-aa56-5722891c6445
[7] https://350.org/press-release/landmark-fossil-fuel-divestment-reached/
[8] https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/commitments/
[9] https://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/news/environment/hackney-council-declares-a-climate-emergency-1-5914142

Hackney, London, UK

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