To: Duncan Whitfield - Strategic Director of Finance and Corporate Services at Southwark Council

Divest Southwark Council’s Pension Fund from Fossil Fuel Investments

Divest Southwark Council’s Pension Fund from Fossil Fuel Investments

Southwark Council should divest its pension fund from fossil fuel companies (sell its shares) to protect the people of Southwark.

So we ask Southwark Council to:

Make a public divestment statement committing the Southwark 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) [1]

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?

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

160 Tooley Street, London, United Kingdom

Reasons for signing

  • we can create our children's future living environment now!
  • To hit our climate change targets we need to switch investment from dirty fossil fuels into green energy. Staying invested in fossil fuels is bad for the planet, people and Southwark pensioners as much of the money on oil company books is in assets that cannot be developed without destroying the world as we know it.
  • Procuring and maintaining a healthy environment for the residents of this planet is my most important concern...

Updates

2017-05-07 16:07:59 -0400

1,000 underskrifter nådda

2015-09-08 11:43:46 -0400

500 signatures reached

2015-04-27 07:19:45 -0400

100 signatures reached

2015-04-24 04:16:16 -0400

50 signatures reached

2015-04-22 07:27:12 -0400

25 signatures reached

2015-04-21 16:29:50 -0400

10 signatures reached