Divest West Midlands

What are we asking for?

We are asking the West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF) to divest their holdings in the fossil fuel industry and reinvest this money into clean energy, local infrastructure, or fossil free investments.

Why is it important?

To stop catastrophic climate change we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition quickly towards a clean renewable economy.

As well as ethical and security grounds for divestment, there are strong financial grounds for taking action, given the increasing risks posed by holding high-carbon investments.

Therefore, it is irresponsible to be invested in fossil fuel companies.

Will it really make a difference?

The aim of the divestment campaign is to weaken the political influence of the fossil fuel industry, which keeps holding back action on climate change. The fossil fuel divestment movement is the fastest growing divestment movement the world has ever seen, with more and more organisations committing to divest every day. With your help, WMPF could be the next!

For move information on how to help, like our Facebook page and sign up to our mailing list.

The Motion

We are really excited that Birmingham City Council will be debating a motion calling on the West Midlands Pension Fund to divest from fossil Fuels.

The motion also calls on the Council to rule out new investments in Fossil Fuels. The Motion will be debated on Tuesday 11th July.

Here is the text of the motion to be debated:

Birmingham City Council recognises that:

  1. Burning fossil fuels poses a serious risk to the stability of the climate upon which our well-being and economy depend.
  2. Research demonstrates that up to 80% world’s proven fossil fuel reserves will have to remain unburnt if we are to have a reasonable chance of keeping global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, the globally agreed target for climate change mitigation.
  3. Since 80% of fossil fuels must remain in the ground, the reserves of the fossil fuel industry risk becoming ‘stranded assets’ with little or no value – representing a substantial financial risk for those that invest in them.
  4. West Midlands Pension Fund currently has over £393 million invested in the oil, coal and gas industries. This is environmentally and financially irresponsible.
  5. To date, over 500 institutions representing over $3.4 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies.

In response to this Birmingham City Council pledges to:

A) Review its Investment Strategy and develop and implement a Responsible Investment Policy, which rules out new investments in Fossil fuel companies.

B) Call on West Midlands Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels by mandating its representative on the Pension Fund Committee to call for the development and adoption of Responsible Investment policies which:

  1. Immediately freeze any new investment in the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies;
  2. Divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years;
  3. Set out an approach to quantifying and addressing climate change risks affecting all other investments, and
  4. Focus future investments on areas that minimise climate change risk.

How To Lobby your Councillor

Here are some ideas for lobbying your Councillor:

Email your Councillor
You can find details of your ward, Councillors and their email addresses by entering your postcode at this link https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/councillors/search

See suggested email.

Contact your Councillor via Face Book or twitter
You can use our suggested tweet/ face book message if you need any guidance

If you are feeling adventurous…
You could contact your councillor by phone or attend a surgery, if they are holding one before the 11th July. These details can also be found via this link https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/councillors/search

Please let us know if you receive a response! To get in touch, contact us via Divestwmpf@gmail.com or message us https://www.facebook.com/DivestWMPF/

Build support

Please spread the word far and wide via social media. Every tweet, post and share will help. See sample tweets / posts you could send to your networks for ideas!

Briefing for Councillors

Notes

The notes below serve  to illustrate the points made in the motion

  1. ‘. Burning fossil fuels poses a serious risk to the stability of the climate upon which our well-being and economy depend.’

“Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest”

Jim Yong Kim World Bank President, 2012

 

What are the impacts of climate change?

We have already seen global warming of over 1°C.[1] This is resulting in increasingly severe impacts[2] – from rapidly melting sea ice at the poles[3] and 50 degree heat waves in India[4], to floods in Louisiana[5] and drought in California.[6]

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report 2017 NationalSummary – England[7] states:

On Infrastructure: “Flooding poses the greatest long-term risk to infrastructure performance from climate change, but the growing risks from heat, water scarcity and slope instability caused by severe weather could be significant.”

On Health: “The CCRA Evidence Report highlights the need for additional action in the next five years in England to address the risks to health and wellbeing from heat, cold, and flooding.”

On Business: “Flooding and extreme weather events which damage assets and disrupt business operations pose the greatest risk to English businesses now and in the future.”

On Natural environment and natural assets: “Climate change poses risks in England to soils, freshwater resources, natural carbon stores, marine ecosystems, farming, forestry, wildlife and habitats. More action is needed to manage these risks.”

On “The international dimension” : “Climate change will impact upon on water security, agricultural production and economic resources around the world. These impacts can in turn exacerbate risks from conflict, migration, and humanitarian crises abroad, with implications for the UK.”

 For full briefing see Councillor Briefing for motion

 

[1] Over pre-industrial levels. See ttps://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-temperature for detail

[2] https://phys.org/news/2016-11-climate-extreme-weather-events-worse.html

[3] https://sites.google.com/site/arctischepinguin/home/global-sea-ice

[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3600314/Indian-city-hits-51-degrees-setting-new-heat-record.html

[5] http://www.nola.com/weather/index.ssf/2016/08/louisiana_flood_of_2016_result.html

[6] http://earthsky.org/earth/drought-continues-california-november-2016

[7] ASC (2016) UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Evidence Report – Summary for England. Adaptation sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change, London.

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Summary

Local governments in the UK manage pension funds worth over £230 billion. £14 billion of this – over 6% – is invested in the fossil fuel industry.

Across the UK and the world, these investments are increasingly being challenged by the fossil fuel divestment campaign.

This briefing, which is extracted from this document summarises the arguments for divestment – both ethical and financial – and show how councillors can advocate for divestment and take action on climate change in your council and community.

The fossil fuel divestment movement calls for organisations, institutions and individuals to demonstrate climate leadership and divest – publicly sell your shares – from fossil fuels. It is the fastest growing divestment movement the world has ever seen.

Divestment aims to morally and politically bankrupt the fossil fuel industry. It has proven to be a powerful tool in movements past; an international campaign helped bring down the South African apartheid government. By divesting, we can break the hold of the fossil fuel industry over our political system, show our desire for, and create the space for action on climate change.

The call to divest local government pensions is also backed up by some powerful financial arguments – fossil fuel companies are increasingly recognised as risky investments, likely to become ‘stranded assets’, especially for long term investors like pension funds.

The movement for fossil fuel divestment began originally on university campuses, but it has quickly spread. More than 50 pension funds globally have now made divestment commitments, moving millions out of the fossil fuel industry.

Additionally, more than 70 city, state and county governments have pledged to divest or passed motions in support of divestment.

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