Pledge 2021 -open letter to candidates

Will you commit to protecting local pensions and the planet?

Dear candidate,

I am writing on behalf of Divest WMPF. We are a group of West Midlands residents and WMPF Pension holders that have been campaigning for the council to divest its pension fund from fossil fuels.

Wolverhampton City Council administers the Local Government Pension Fund (LGPF) for the whole of the West Midlands and has the majority of seats on the Pension Committee who act as fiduciaries for West Midlands Pension Fund. (WMPF)

WMPF invests around £320 million of local money[i] in planet-wrecking fossil fuels. We think it’s time to change this by divesting.

 Simply put, divestment is the opposite of investment; it means selling assets. The fossil fuel divestment campaign asks that institutions such as local governments pension schemes move their direct and indirect investments out of the fossil fuel industry over a period of usually between three to five years.

Cardiff, Waltham Forest, Southwark, Islington and the Environment Agency have already committed to divesting their pensions. We think this election is the perfect time for our council to take their impressive climate leadership plans to the next level by committing to stop investing in the biggest polluters in the world, and plan how this money can be invested in the local economy instead.

We are writing to you to ask that you agree to publicly back the following pledge:

 “If elected, I pledge to support the council divesting its pension fund from fossil fuels and investing in renewables and the local economy over an appropriate time-scale. I promise to do everything in my power to make sure this happens within the first year of my term in office”.

Here are three reasons why now is the time to commit to divestment:

Climate emergency: Over three-quarters of local councils have declared a climate emergency. For the majority of councils, their largest carbon emissions will come from their pension fund investments. To divest from fossil fuels, all you have to do is get your pension fund committee to pass a motion and tell your asset managers what to do.

Financial risk: Oil prices have been trending downwards ever since they peaked in 2008. COVID-19 and the faster-than-expected transition to renewables has only accelerated this trend. By November 2020, UK local government pension schemes had lost over £2 billion over the previous four years by not divesting from oil investments. Divesting poses no financial risk whatsoever. Why take the chance on an increasingly volatile fossil fuel market?

UN climate talks: The UK has the privilege of hosting the global COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow this November. This has renewed the national focus on the potential the country has to be a world leader on climate issues. Divestment is a meaningful way that local government can play its part in the UK meeting our ambitious climate targets.

To register your pledge, please:

  1. Reply to this email, copying in ukdivest@gmail.com, to be added to the public pledge list on www.divest.org.uk and on our website https://divestwmpf.org/
  • If you would like to show your support for the pledge publicly you can do so by:
  • Take a photo of yourself holding the pledge.
  • Share the photograph on your social media channels using the hashtag: #2021divestpledge.

Alternatively, you can show your support by sharing a social media graphic online and on your website (click here for Twitter, or Facebook/Instagram)

If you have any further questions on this, please do not hesitate to contact me, I would be delighted to talk to you in more detail about it.

 Should you be elected, we would welcome continuing this dialogue about how we can work together to make your council and WMPF a climate leader.

Yours sincerely,

Kay Edwards and the DivestWMPF team.