Dudley MBC to debate Divestment Motion

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Brilliant news! On Monday 7th October  , at full council, Dudley MBC will debate a fossil fuel divestment motion.

The motion raised by Labour’s Councillor Pete Lowe is the second to be raised in the West Midlands. In 2017  Birmingham City Council  unanimously passed a motion calling on West Midlands Pension Fund to divest from Oil, Coal and Gas exploration and extraction companies.

The motion has been on the agenda for several  full council meetings but due to time pressures has yet to be debated. It will be discussed this time as it is the first motion on the list!We need  to let Dudley councillors know that Dudley backs the motion.

Please spread the word and let your councillor know you support the motion.

We need your help to make this a success ( see ‘Lobby your councillor’ )

Climate Emergency Divestment

This Tuesday, 11th June, Birmingham City Council voted unanimously to commit to a 2030 target for net-zero. This was a bold and necessary commitment which will shape all decision making in the city council over the coming years. Councillors spoke passionatly about improving home insulation, decarbonising transport and ensuring a just transition. But I want to highlight the speech by Cllr John Clancy who pointed out that in two years since Birmingham City Council came together to call for the West Midlands Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuel companies, nothing has happened. Here is a transcript of his speech:

Clearly this is an outstanding motion, which deserves our support which fills me with confidence in our future. However two years ago next month this council came together as we have done today to commit to a motion that made Birmingham City Council pledge to review its investment strategy and develop and implement a responsible investment policy which rules out new investments in fossil fuel companies. Do you remember that? That was two years ago next month. We came together.

In particular we took a view that the West Midlands Pension Fund (my favourite body as you all know) should immediately freeze any new investments in the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies; to divest from direct ownership and in any co-mingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within five years; set out an approach to quantifying and addressing climate change risks affecting all other investments; and so on and so forth.

It was very important that we passed that. I cannot see any evidence actually that that has had any impact at all. And if you look at the top 20 investments of the West Midlands Pension Fund, you will see oil companies, and I think the amount invested in them has actually increased in the last two years. So BP – two BP funds in particular; we’ve got a whole range of mining companies that we’re invested in.

We have to take a view that if the city council is going to be net zero carbon by 2030, we have to look at what our investments in the West Midlands Pension Fund are doing at the same time.

Now, you may not know how much money went from this City Council to the West Midlands Pension Fund this last year, because the accounts are out. Last year, this city council gave to the West Midlands Pension Fund to invest for its employees and former employees half a billion pounds – in one year. That’s how much we’re paying into that fund. You think how much is going into that fund between now and 2030.

Now it has to be said about 80% of those funds are just in equities. They’re invested wherever. Very little is invested in this country, and we did in our motion two years ago ask to look at what local investment policy that pension fund was going to start to invest towards. I can see no evidence of that having happened. This year whilst we handed an extra 100 million pounds to that pension fund, it paid out £80 million to its investment managers. And those investment managers need to start advising how we start to divest, because it is a case of if you don’t decarbonise capitalism, it’s going to fail.

And we need to get to a situation where most of the fossil fuel companies in the equity markets are nowhere near getting to their Paris commitments. And the pension funds needs to divest from them or explain why that is not going to harm the beneficiaries of those pension funds.

So can we have in the task force a real effort to start to focus the minds of the West Midlands Pension Fund, investing our money. Thank you Lord Mayor.

We wish to thank Cllr Clancy for his words. He is absolutely right. It is unsustainable that the fund is putting its benificiaries pensions at risk by investing in fossil fuel companies which are driving the global climate and ecosystems to the brink of collapse. The fund must act now and divest from fossil fuels, as demanded by Birmingham City Council.

Climate Emergency Motion

Councils around the Midlands are declaring a Climate Emergency. We believe that any declaration of a climate emergency needs to include divestment of the local government pension fund (WMPF) from fossil fuels which are a huge contributor to the climate crisis.

We are delighted to hear that Coventry are due to debate a climate motion on Tuesday 18th June, but the current motion to be debated does not have teeth. We therefore urge all our supporters to contact your local councillor and ask for the motion to be improved.

Here is a suggested email which you can use to get in touch with your local councillor. If you live in Coventry, you can use the council website to find your councillor.


I understand a motion is due to be put to council on Tuesday 18th June regarding climate change. I implore you to include the following clauses in that motion.
Climate change will have a significant impact on our city and duly I have attached a
summary of the recent IPCC report for our city.

A number of low-cost actions that the council can take to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Friends of the Earth and Fossil Free Coventry have outlined 33 actions local authorities can take on climate change at the following link: https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/insight/33-actions-local-authorities-can-take-climate-change

Henceforth this council:

  1. Declares a ‘Climate Emergency’ that requires urgent action.
    Commits to making the Council’s activities net-zero carbon by 2030 or earlier.
  2. Will ensure the council owned waste incinerator does not burn any recyclable waste beyond 2020 and the city improves recycling rates recycling rates to the national average in line with the waste hierarchy
  3. Will ensure that all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to planning decisions are in line with a shift to zero carbon by 2030.
  4. Will support and work with all other relevant agencies towards making the entire area zero carbon by 2030;
  5. Will ensure that political and chief officer leadership teams embed this work in all areas and take responsibility for reducing, as rapidly as possible, the carbon emissions resulting from the Council’s activities, ensuring that any recommendations are fully costed and that the Executive and Scrutiny functions review council activities taking account of lifecycle emissions.
  6. Will ensure Council Scrutiny Panels consider the impact of climate change and the environment when reviewing Council policies and strategies;
  7. Will work with, influence and inspire partners across the city and region to help deliver this goal through all relevant strategies, plans and shared resources by developing a series of meetings, events and partner workshops;
  8. Will request that the Council and partners take steps to proactively include young people and people of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in the process, ensuring that they
  9. Will consider the latest climate science and expert advice on solutions and to consider systematically the climate change impact of each area of the Council’s activities
  10. Will set up a Climate Change Partnership group, involving Councillors, residents, young citizens, climate science, experts, businesses and other relevant parties. Over the following 12 months, the Group will consider strategies and actions being developed by the Council and other partner organisations and develop a strategy in line with a target of net zero emissions by 2030. It will also recommend ways to maximise local benefits of these actions in other sectors such as employment, health, agriculture, transport and the economy
  11. Will divest investments and assets from companies engaged in fossil fuel extraction and electricity generation from fossil sources by 2021 or at the earliest opportunity as contracts expire and will lobby other councils in the WMCA and wider region to do likewise.
  12. Will ensure that all reports in preparation for the 2020/21 budget cycle and investment strategy will take into account the actions the council will take to address this emergency;
  13. Will call on the UK Government to provide the powers, resources and help with funding to make this possible, and ask local MPs to do likewise;
  14. Will proactively use local planning powers to minimise future emissions and ensure this is properly resourced
  15. Will ensure that the principle of a just transition is maintained in all decisions, ensuring decarbonisation does not lead to significant rises in poverty or disproportionally impact minority communities.”

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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