Dudley Council Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Last night, Dudley Council voted unanimously on a cross-party motion calling on the council’s pension fund to divest from fossil fuels, demonstrating a commitment to action on climate change and reducing the financial risk to pension members.

The motion, which was tabled by Councillor Pete Lowe, received full support from across the council members. It follows a trend of councils passing motions to divest from fossil fuels. This is amid growing concern about the impacts of climate change and a responsibility to reduce financial risk for pension members.

In his speech Councillor Lowe said:

“Tackling such a colossal challenge requires action at all levels – international, national, and local. That is why I have decided to bring this motion forward.”

Labour Leader in Dudley Cllr Qadar Zada said:

“We all have a responsibility to play our part in reducing carbon emissions and this motion will put further pressure on fossil fuel companies to put more effort into the adoption of renewable energy. Our message is simple pollution doesn’t pay.”

Councillor Simon Phipps who successfully tabled a Conservative amendment to the motion said:

I’m so pleased that this motion attracted the unanimous support of Dudley Council. Climate change is the biggest threat facing our society and public organisations have a responsibility to lead change. Members of the pension fund should now be given the opportunity to see that this course of action will not detrimentally affect the fund financially. I hope that the members of the Fund will see that this is the right thing to do, as this will help to ensure that the West Midlands is a leading region in the quest for a carbon neutral society.

Vigil outside the Council House

Prior to the meeting a vigil was held outside Dudley Council Chamber, relaying to councillors the wide public support for divestment. The vigil was organised by the group Divest West Midlands Pension Fund (DivestWMPF) and Dudley Green Party. DivestWMPF have been campaigning for the fund to remove its investments in fossil fuels for four years.

Kay Edwards, from DivestWMPF, who is a Dudley resident and pension fund member said:

“We are delighted that Dudley have voted for this motion which will build momentum for the West Midlands to end destructive fossil fuel funding. Shell, BP and other fossil fuel companies have no place in public pension funds, as they continue to pour investment into new oil and gas projects.”

West Midlands Pension Fund, is one of the top 25 institutional pension funds in the country, and has an estimated £490 million  invested in fossil fuel companies. These companies are continuing to invest  in new projects which undermine climate targets and put shareholder returns at risk.

This motion follows a trend in the UK. So far 12 councils have passed motions committing to divest their pensions from fossil fuels, including Birmingham City Council who committed to divestment in July 2017. The motion follows increasing local concern about the climate emergency. In September, 3,000 protestors gathered in Birmingham, and protests were also held in Wolverhampton, Dudley and other locations all around the West Midlands, with demands for more urgency in tackling climate change.

DivestWMPF are continuing to call for the other local councils in the West Midlands Pension Fund including Wolverhampton to add their voices to the call to divest the Fund from fossil fuels.

Dudley to Divest?

On 7th October, Dudley Council will vote on a motion to divest the pension fund from fossil fuels. This important resolution will demonstrate Dudley is committed to playing its part to solve the climate crisis. It is also a really smart policy as noted in a letter to the Financial Times:

Fossil fuel-free investing is, in fact, low-risk and profitable. The financial numbers on the fossil fuel industry’s market performance no longer add up. It has lost its competitive edge. To maintain market share the oil and gas (and coal) sector flouts the rule of law, confounds fair play, ignores shareholder concerns, distorts science and frustrates political discourse. All to advance a weak economic rationale from a bygone era. The divestment movement uses protest as a political device to open a new consensus on low-carbon initiatives. Corporate boards are the battlegrounds for debate because the fossil fuel industry has succeeded in undermining the Paris Agreement and any policy proposal that runs counter to unbridled exploration and development.

We hope all the parties in Dudley MBC will join together to support this crucial motion.

Email your Councillor

It would be a great help if you could email your local Dudley Councillor about the upcoming motion to be debated on 7th October   2019. You can find your local councillor here.

Here is a suggested email that you could send:

Dear ……………………………..

I am a constituent in the ………………………… ward,

I recently discovered that the West-Midlands Pension Fund, which manages the pensions of most  council employees in Dudley  and the rest of the West Midlands region, has significant investments in fossil fuel companies.

I am writing to ask you to support a motion calling for these investments to end and for Dudley MBC   to implement a ‘Responsible Investment Policy’ which rules out future investments in fossil fuel companies. The motion is being presented at Full Council on Monday 7th October .

As well as financing these high emission industries the investments expose the pension fund to unnecessary risk. Much of the fossil fuel reserves which these companies rely on when judging their share value are ‘un-burnable’ if we are to significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions. They are stranded assets.

Given the risk posed by possible stranded assets, and more importantly the opportunity to contribute to a cleaner energy future, it no longer makes moral or financial sense to invest in the fossil fuel industry.

I look forward to your response,

Sincerely,

Post Code ____________________

For further information may I refer you to divestwmpf.org.

Rowan Williams calls for local pension fund to divest from fossil fuels

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has called for West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF) to divest from fossil fuels, saying the local government pension is “investing in history”.

Backing was received from Dr Williams following discussions with DivestWMPF.

Dr Williams, who has been outspoken in the need for strong action on climate breakdown, said:

“I’m very happy indeed to support the campaign for the West Midlands Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels”. Dr Rowan Williams

It is wrong for West Midlands Pension Fund to profit from climate and environmental destruction. Following on from the declaration of climate and environmental emergency in Parliament, it is time for WMPF to ditch fossil fuels and invest in the future.

UN scientists have warned that by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions from burning these fuels must be reduced by 45% to avoid catastrophic effects such as rising seas and loss of all coral reefs.

West Midlands Pension Fund is the local government pension fund for Dudley, Coventry, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Solihull, Walsall and Birmingham. It invests £490 million in companies which extract oil, coal and gas. In July 2017 Birmingham City Council unanimously passed a motion backing the call for divestment.

In the lead up to the May 2019 Local Elections over 100 candidates from across Dudley, Coventry, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Solihull and Walsall and across party borders backed the pledge: “I support the divestment of our local government pension fund from fossil fuels, and reinvestment locally to support transition to a low carbon future”

DivestWMPF is part of the growing international divestment mission coordinated by Fossil Free calling for organisations, institutions and individuals to demonstrate moral leadership and break their ties with the fossil fuel industry.

The Pledge

 

It’s time for the West Midlands to stop investing in the climate crisis.

Divest WMPF is a campaign group which wants to stop the West Midlands local government pension fund investing in oil, coal and gas. We are asking all candidates standing in local elections to sign our Pledge. We plan to publicise all the responses we receive on our website, in social media and via local press.

The pledge

“I support the divestment of our local government pension fund from fossil fuels, and reinvestment locally to support transition to a low carbon future”

The West Midlands Pension Fund invests an estimated £490 million in fossil fuels. This is being used to fund new oil, gas and coal infrastructure which is driving climate breakdown. The pledge is asking you to support the call for your council to back divestment – removing the pension fund’s money from oil, coal and gas and reinvesting it to support transition to a low carbon future. Examples of local reinvestment opportunities are housing, energy efficiency, low carbon technology and infrastructure such as decentralised energy solutions.

In the West Midlands in July 2017 Birmingham City Council unanimously passed a motion backing this call. We hope 2019 will bring further backing from across the West Midlands and if elected your support as a Councillor would play an important part in making this happen.

Why should West Midlands Pension Fund divest?

It is scientifically proven that burning fossil fuels is causing climate breakdown. If we are to keep to the internationally agreed target of well below 2°C of warming, most known reserves of coal, oil and gas will need to remain in the ground. The companies that are still looking for new reserves of fossil fuels now represent a risky long term investment. If we succeed in averting catastrophic climate change then they will be left with stranded assets in the form of vast amounts of fossil fuels that can never be burned.

We have published a report which details how the fossil fuel companies in which WMPF invests are not doing enough to tackle climate breakdown, investing under 3% in clean energy.

In 2018 the call for divestment received increasing support nationally and internationally and over 200 MPs and former MPs across all political parties have backed the call for their pension fund to divest from fossil fuels. More recently New York City has committed to divest its pension fund from fossil fuels. In total, divestment commitments of £6.7 Trillion have been made by over 1000 institutions.

Take Action

Sign the pledge here:

“I support the divestment of our local government pension fund from fossil fuels, and reinvestment locally to support transition to a low carbon future”

 

Now tweet or post on Facebook (sharing buttons are below):

I support the divestment of our local government pension fund from fossil fuels, and reinvestment locally to support transition to a low carbon future @divestwmpf