West Yorkshire Pension Fund

Call for Kirklees Council & West Yorkshire Pension Fund to sever financial links with fossil fuel industry

Kirklees Council: Time to break up with fossil fuels

Kirklees Council: Time to break up with fossil fuels

Huddersfield Friends of the Earth and a coalition of environmental campaign and faith groups, is calling on Kirklees Council and the wider West Yorkshire Pension Fund to go ‘Fossil Free’ and sever all financial links with the fossil fuel industry. The campaigners point to recent research, undertaken by the Carbon Tracker Initiative [1], which has found that there are already five times more fossil-fuel reserves than can be burnt if internationally agreed carbon emissions targets are to be met.

Chayley Collis from Huddersfield Friends of the Earth commented: “80% of known fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground to prevent catastrophic temperature rises. Our futures depend on investing in clean not dirty energy and our pension funds should not be investing in companies which are trying to extract even more unburnable oil, coal and gas”

The campaigners also believe that fossil fuel investments could also pose significant financial risks. Chayley added: “As global governments seek to control carbon emissions, a large proportion of fossil fuel reserves will become stranded assets: a “carbon bubble”. Funds which are exposed to fossil fuel investments when this bubble bursts can expect to suffer considerable losses. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney has recently stated that the “vast majority of reserves are unburnable” if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C.”

Fossil Free West Yorkshire Pension Fund

Chayley added: “Kirklees Council does not have any direct investments in the fossil fuel industry itself, so it would be relatively easy for it to commit to going ‘Fossil Free’. However, 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, and so WYPF participating Councils, such as Kirklees and Bradford, will need to put pressure on the pension fund to consider the ethical and financial risks posed by its fossil fuel investments.”

The fossil fuel divestment campaign has been named the fastest-growing divestment movement in history [2]. Around 200 institutions globally, with a combined asset size of over $50 billion, have already committed to divest, including the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the British Medical Association, and the Church of England. In the UK, Oxford and Bristol city councils have agreed to divestment and, in the last month, Warwick University became the fourth UK university to commit to fully divesting [3].

The Fossil Free Kirklees petition is supported by Holmfirth Transition Town, Huddersfield Friends of the Earth, Kirklees Campaign against Climate Change, Marsden and Slaithwaite Transition Towns and Huddersfield Quaker Meeting and is due to be handed in to Kirklees Council in early September.

Fossil Free Kirklees supporters outside Huddersfield Town Hall

Fossil Free Kirklees supporters outside Huddersfield Town Hall

More information: fossilfreekirklees.wordpress.com

[1] http://www.carbontracker.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Unburnable-Carbon-Full-rev2-1.pdf
[2] http://www.arabellaadvisors.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Measuring-the-Global-Divestment-Movement.pdf
[3] For a full list of commitments see http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/

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