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

Divest For Their Future

In Birmingham, Coventry, and around the globe up to a million young people filled the streets to call for climate action for the Youth 4 Schools Strike. Many are worried about having a habitable planet when they got old. A future which the political class has decided to abandon by its inaction. Many other young people, mostly in poor countries, are living with the realities of 1C of warming right now. Their stories – like Brianna Fruean, 20 in Samoa in the South Pacific where they already have extreme cyclones, floods and droughts – are heartbreaking.

The school stikers are demanding climate action. It is the responsibility of the government to transform its policy agenda to put climate at the heart of every decision. Local government also has to play a part to play. Cities use two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions, so have an important part to play in reducing global emissions.

But as well as having a green policy agenda, which West Midlands councils claim to have, our local government has to demonstrate its commitment. It needs to reinvest the hundreds of millions of pounds that its pension fund, WMPF, has invested in the same dirty fuels which are condeming people like Brianna Fruean in Samoa to cataclysmic conditions caused by climate breakdown. Divesting these £ millions now is a small step, but it sends a strong signal that BP, Shell and the rest of the dirty fuel industry are losing their hold on our economy and our politicians. The youth have spoken. Our councils must respond.

Fossil Free Coventry Launch

DivestWMPF are excited to be joined by a new sister group, Fossil Free Coventry. This group aims to move Coventry to a fossil free future by divesting from fossil fuels and by cutting its own carbon dioxide emissions.

The launch event for the new group is tomorrow, Saturday 9th March 2019 at Broadgate, Coventry at the Green Week Sustainability Market. We have a stall from 9am until 5pm. Here’s what we have planned:

  • Letter writing – Call on Coventry Council to divest from fossil fuels and get more serious on cutting carbon emissions by writing to your local councillor.
  • Games for Change – Play Tom’s new Games for Change.
  • Petitions – We have petition. for Coventry City council to divest the local government fund from fossil fuels. Chat to us about our demands and sign the petition.

We have a flyer here. Here are some links:

See you there!

Email your Councillor

It would be a great help if you could email your local Dudley MBC Councillor about the upcoming motion to be debated on 18th February 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 18th February.

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.