‘ZOMBIES’ MARCH THROUGH LEEDS TO HIGHLIGHT DANGERS OF GAS, OIL AND COAL

Dead against Fossil Fuels zombie slouch, Leeds

A  Hallowe’en themed march for climate action took place in Leeds today [Saturday 27th October]. Marchers took to the streets dressed as zombies, proclaiming that they were ‘dead against’ fossil fuels. The marchers were protesting against the fossil fuel and fracking industries and were calling on Leeds Council, West Yorkshire Pension Fund, Leeds University and Leeds MPs to end their investments in fossil fuel companies.

The fossil fuel industry is the leading cause of climate change, with just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions [1]. The marchers included parents, pensioners, students and several young children in buggies. It was organised by Friends of the Earth, Fossil Free West Yorkshire and ‘Dead Against’.

Dead against Fossil Fuels zombie slouch, Leeds

Deirdre Duff of Friends of the Earth said;

“The fossil fuel industry has five times more fossil fuels than we can use if are to prevent catastrophic, irreversible climate change. Despite this, the fossil fuel industry continues to explore for even more fossil fuels. Its business plans are incompatible with retaining a planet that is safe for human civilization”

Chayley Collis of Huddersfield Friends of the Earth said;

“The fossil fuel industry spends huge sums of money lobbying politicians and policy makers to promote climate misinformation – such as the myth that natural gas is a solution to climate change. In reality, we cannot afford to start any new gas, oil or coal projects if are serious about our commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.  It is shocking that the West Yorkshire Pension Fund continues to invest in such a dishonest and dangerous industry. It is time to divest.”

Jane Thewlis, of Fossil Free West Yorkshire, said;

“I’m marching today for a fossil free world. It’s exciting that the price of renewables has dropped dramatically over the last decade. A renewable powered world can be a safer, cleaner, more equitable world. It’s time to make fossil fuels history – it makes neither ethical nor financial sense to invest in them today.”

Madeleine Vos, an MSc Sustainability and Business student at Leeds University said;

‘We are marching because the University of Leeds is still ignoring student voices calling for fossil fuel divestment. They still invest over three million pounds a year directly into fossil fuel industries, despite knowing the imminent dangers of climate change”

The fossil fuel divestment movement is growing rapidly. Institutions managing over 7 trillion dollars’ worth of investments have now committed to divest from fossil fuels. Local government pension funds, cities such as New York, universities, health organisations, churches and the country of Ireland are among those ending their investments in fossil fuels [2]

However West Yorkshire councils, such as Leeds and Bradford council, continue to invest in the fossil fuel industry through the West Yorkshire Pension Fund (WYPF). WYPF has £933 million invested in fossil fuel companies [3], including considerable exposure to companies involved in the global fracking industry [4]. West Yorkshire MPs, through their MP pension fund, are investing in fossil fuel companies such as Shell, BP and Total [5]. A number of West Yorkshire MPs have signed a Divest Parliament Pledge to the support the campaign for divestment of the MP pension fund.  Leeds university has over £3.5 million invested in the fossil fuel industry. It is expected to make a decision on whether to divest from fossil fuels this November.

Dead against Fossil Fuels zombie slouch, Leeds

ENDS

NOTES

[1] See https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/10/100-fossil-fuel-companies-investors-responsible-71-global-emissions-cdp-study-climate-change

[2] For details of fossil fuel divestment commitments see https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/commitments/

[3] See https://gofossilfree.org/uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/11/Councils-Fuelling-the-Fire-Online-1.3.pdf

[4] West Yorkshire Pension Fund invests at least £513,639,500 in companies with fracking operations – as revealed in this report 513,639,500. https://gofossilfree.org/uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2018/09/03_09_18_FINAL-VERSION-divest-fracking-report-.pdf

[5] The MP pension fund has stakes in the fossil fuel companies BP (£ 7.33 million), Royal Dutch Shell (£6.6 million), Rio Tinto (£3.67 million) and Total SA (£2.93 million). For more information on this see https://gofossilfree.org/uk/divest-parliament/

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Rise for Climate, Bradford – Saturday 8 September 2018

Rise for Climate Bradford 8 September 2018 - photo John Sargent

On Saturday 8 September Fossil Free West Yorkshire brought together campaigners from across the region for a vibrant musical action to demand that West Yorkshire Pension Fund (WYPF) follows the lead of New York and Ireland by cutting its investments in fossil fuels. The action was part of a global #RiseForClimate day of action for a Fossil Free world, and was one of over 530 actions taking place in 78 countries across the world.

WYPF has £933 million invested in fossil fuel companies [1], including considerable exposure to companies involved in the global fracking industry, as a national report highlighted earlier this week [2].  The Fossil Free West Yorkshire group is campaigning for Bradford Council, which manages the fund, to cuts financial links with the fossil fuel industry and is gaining growing political support from across West Yorkshire. Fossil Free West Yorkshire supporters include MPs from Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield including Imran Hussain, Naz Shah, Barry Sheerman, Alex Sobel and Thelma Walker. Fifteen Bradford councillors are supporting the call for fossil fuel divestment, joined by a growing number of councillors and organisations from across the region.  [3]

The campaigners are demanding that the local leaders ‘walk the talk’ on climate action by divesting from fossil fuels as well as taking the financial risks of climate change seriously.

Jane Thewlis from Fossil Free West Yorkshire commented:

“Expert analysis has found that around 80% of all known fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground if global warming is to be limited to 2 degrees as agreed by world Governments. Fossil Free West Yorkshire is calling on WYPF  to protect pensions from what Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England has said is the risk of ‘stranded assets’ in the form of ‘unburnable’ coal, oil and gas.“

The ‘Rise For Climate’ action in Bradford was celebrating New York and Ireland’s recent decision to divest from fossil fuels and demand that local leaders commit to building a fossil free world and divest the West Yorkshire councils’ pension fund from fossil fuels. Local street band the Peace Artistes added to the celebrations with lots of ‘razzle dazzle’ and their ‘irresistible blend of African, Salsa, Folk and Funk’. Speakers at the action included community activists, poet Sharina Lee Satti, writer and artist Razwan Ul Haq, and a number of young Bradfordians, who shared their powerful and inspiring vision for the future.

 

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Julie Longden from Fossil Free West Yorkshire said:

“We are saying to the West Yorkshire Pension Fund – managed by Bradford Council – that it’s time to follow New York and Ireland and do the right thing by protecting our pensions and moving away from climate-wrecking fossil fuels.

We’ve seen the devastating impact of climate change this summer with extreme weather in the form of heatwaves, forest fires, landslides and flooding across the globe. Climate breakdown is hitting the poorest the hardest and these impacts will spiral if we do not act now.  Despite this, West Yorkshire councils are ploughing millions into companies like Shell and BP which have spent decades fuelling the crisis. It is time the West Yorkshire Pension Fund cut its ties with the fossil fuel companies.”

The Peace Artistes

Notes

1.      Fuelling the Fire report: https://fossilfreewypf.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/fuelling-the-fire/

2.      Divest Fracking report: https://gofossilfree.org/uk/divest-fracking/

https://fossilfreewypf.wordpress.com/2018/09/03/new-report-reveals-west-yorkshire-councils-investing-over-500-million-in-fracking-industry/

3.      Fossil Free West Yorkshire supporters: https://fossilfreewypf.wordpress.com/supporters/

NEW REPORT REVEALS WEST YORKSHIRE COUNCILS INVESTING OVER £500 MILLION IN FRACKING INDUSTRY

Fossil Free West Yorkshire campaignrs at Preston New Road fracking site

 

A national report released today has revealed that Bradford council and the other West Yorkshire councils are investing £513 million in fracking companies through their management of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund [1]. The news comes as the fracking industry is poised to drill for gas for the first time in seven years in the UK.

Public support for fracking is consistently low in the UK [2]. Numerous councils have voted against fracking development in their areas, but council-run funds remain invested in the industry [3]. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fracking has been effectively halted, but Councils there still oversee pension funds investing heavily in fracking companies.

Julie Longden, local campaigner from Fossil Free West Yorkshire commented:

‘‘It’s shocking to see Bradford Council and the other West Yorkshire councils investing pension funds into the fracking industry. Fracking threatens communities, destroys local landscapes, and fuels climate change across the globe. As this industry tries to get a foothold in the UK, it’s crucial that our councils take a clear stand against fracking and divest from the companies responsible.”

Sakina Sheikh, Divestment Campaigner with Platform added:

“The devastating fires and record temperatures this summer have brought the impacts of climate change home. Neither local communities or our climate can afford for the fracking industry to win. Our councils are providing everyday support to the frackers, it’s time to stop. It’s time to divest from fossil fuels.”

The data is released by 350.org, Platform and Friends of the Earth. It ranks council-run pension funds by their investments in companies involved in fracking. Full divestment commitments have so far been made by two UK council pension funds, with a further five making partial commitments [4]. The campaign to divest local council pensions has received backing from Unison and the TUC [5].

Fossil Free West Yorkshire will be holding a colourful Rise for Climate action in Bradford this Saturday 8 September demanding that Bradford Council and the West Yorkshire Pension Fund takes its money out of fracking companies – and all fossil fuel companies – following the example of New York and Ireland which have both recently divest from fossil fuels. The ‘From New York to Bradford: Rise for Climate action’ starts at 12 noon at Ivegate, Bradford, BD1 1SW and will be accompanied by local band the Peace Artistes.

 

NOTES

1. The analysis calculated that 55% of all fossil fuel companies are undertaking fracking activities – that’s 55% of all coal, oil and gas companies. It then calculated 55% of all West Yorkshire Pension Funds fossil fuel investments to arrive at the £513 million figure.

The most recent listing of West Yorkshire Pension Fund investments is here, including large investments in BP and Shell, which are both actively involved in fracking across the world.  http://www.wypf.org.uk/Member/Investments/InvestmentPortfolio/2018/WYPFValuation2018.aspx

To view the full national data set and for more information, visit: gofossilfree.org/uk/divest-fracking

2. See information in recent Drill or Drop article: https://drillordrop.com/2018/08/16/question-on-attitudes-to-fracking-dropped-from-government-survey/

3. See Drill or Drop for summary of recent council decisions on onshore drilling applications: https://drillordrop.com/rig-watch/

4. Waltham Forest and Southwark Council Pension Funds have committed to phase out all fossil fuel investments from their portfolio. To see the full list of global divestment commitments, visit: gofossilfree.org/commitments

5. Read more on Unison’s decision on Platform’s blog. View the text of the TUC motion – adopted unanimously – on the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy website

Leeds Council candidates pledge to divest Local Government Pension scheme from fossil fuels to tackle climate change

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Fossil Free West Yorkshire Deputation to Leeds City Council with Simon Campbell Skelling, Dylan Brown, David Midgeley, Rosie Atkins and Mashuda Sheikh.

8 council candidates standing for election to Leeds council on Thursday 3 May, covering 7 wards, are calling on the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to end its investments in fossil fuels in order to tackle climate change. They have signed up to this statement:-

“As is well known, burning fossil fuels is causing climate change, and to keep to the internationally agreed target of 2 degrees of warming most known reserves of coal, oil and gas will need to remain underground. The companies that are still looking for new reserves represent risky investments. Bradford council administers the Local Government Pension Scheme which currently invests over £933 million in fossil fuels.

This money could be better invested locally in socially relevant schemes and infrastructure such as housing, energy efficiency or renewable energy. West Yorkshire Pension Fund has acknowledged the risks to the Fund associated with climate change, and expressed its intention to reduce its carbon exposure. I favour an end to West Yorkshire Pension Fund investing in the financially unsound companies that are driving climate change.”

The candidates who support the pledge are: David T Corry (Green, Harewood), Ed Carlisle and Alaric Hall (Green, Hunslet and Riverside), Dylan Brown (Green, Kippax and Methley), Gavin Andrews (Green, Moortown), Chris Bell (Green, Morley South), Mick Bradley (Green, Otley and Yeadon), and Ali Aliremzioglu (Green, Rothwell).

David Corry, standing for election in Harewood ward said, ‘I regard the combatting of global climate change as a top priority. I am therefore fully in agreement with the statement above. For the same reasons I am against all fracking.

Chris Bell, candidate for the Green Party in Morley South added ‘It should be a priority to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels and for the Council to hold investments that are dependent on the continuing use of these environmentally damaging energy sources compromises the integrity of their policy decision making.’

And Ed Carlisle said ‘I’m 100% happy to support this – a no brainer for our party’.

Chayley Collis from Fossil Free West Yorkshire said, ‘We are pleased that 8 Green party candidates in Leeds have signed the pledge to divest the council pension fund from fossil fuels. Councillors from other parties have written to us expressing their support for climate action which indicates the interest in taking this issue forward. Action on climate is urgent. We don’t want our councils investing in something that currently causes thousands of deaths per year, and that will lead to a refugee crisis far worse than we have now.  Furthermore, the financial risk is the reason many organisations are already ditching fossil fuel investments before they become worthless, and instead investing in clean healthy solutions for the future. We look forward to building on the interest sparked by the deputation taken to the council in March on this topic, with the newly elected councillors, and we urge voters to consider voting those candidates who have signed the pledge on 3 May’

Bradford councillors and candidates pledge to divest Local Government Pension scheme from fossil fuels to tackle climate change

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Supporters of the Fossil Free West Yorkshire campaign: Labour Party Bradford Councillors Mohammed Amran, Carol Thirkill, Fozia Shaheen and Bev Mullaney

11 current councillors plus a further 12 candidates standing for election to Bradford council on Thursday 3 May, covering 16 wards, are calling on the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to end its investments in fossil fuels in order to tackle climate change. They have signed up to this statement:-

“As is well known, burning fossil fuels is causing climate change, and to keep to the internationally agreed target of 2 degrees of warming most known reserves of coal, oil and gas will need to remain underground. The companies that are still looking for new reserves represent risky investments. Bradford council administers the Local Government Pension Scheme which currently invests over £933 million in fossil fuels.

This money could be better invested locally in socially relevant schemes and infrastructure such as housing, energy efficiency or renewable energy. West Yorkshire Pension Fund has acknowledged the risks to the Fund associated with climate change, and expressed its intention to reduce its carbon exposure. I favour an end to West Yorkshire Pension Fund investing in the financially unsound companies that are driving climate change.”

IMG_0274
Councillor Kevin Warnes (Green Party)
Councillor Martin Love (Green Party)
Councillor Martin Love (Green Party)

Details of which candidates have signed and their reasons can be seen on the website https://fossilfreewypf.wordpress.com/fossil-free-pledge-for-candidates-in-may-2018-elections/  The current councillors (not candidates) who support the pledge are: Cllr Martin Love and Cllr Kevin Warnes (Green, Shipley), Cllr Bev Mullaney and Cllr Sue Duffy, (Labour, Thornton and Allerton), Cllr Fozia Shaheen, (Labour, Toller), Cllr Mohammed Amran, (Labour, Heaton) and  Cllr Carol Thirkill, (Labour, Clayton and Fairweather Green). Councillors who are candidates this year who support the pledge are Cllr Hawarun Hussain, (Green, Shipley), Cllr Nazam Azam, (Labour, City), Cllr Richard Dunbar (Labour, Thornton and Allerton) and Cllr Nussrat Mohammed, (Labour, Heaton).

Richard Dunbar, standing for re-election in Thornton and Allerton said, ‘I acknowledge the existential threat posed by climate change and this is why I am signing the fossil free pledge. We need to do everything we can to protect our planet and a key way in which we can do this is to stop our economy being overly dependent on fossil fuels. We need to collectively do more to move towards cleaner and renewable energy. Divesting away from fossil fuel companies not only makes environmental sense but it also makes economic sense a stated by the Governor of the Bank of England. The bottom line is that if we are to protect our planet for future generations then we need to take decisive action and divest now.

Darren Parkinson, candidate for the Green Party in Wyke added ‘I fully support Fossil Free West Yorkshire Pension Funds campaign. Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet and its people. Divesting from fossil fuel companies is one of many actions that we need to take to stop the climate crisis.”

Sarah Dawson from Fossil Free West Yorkshire said, ‘The fact that 11 current councillors and a further 12 candidates have signed the pledge to divest the council pension fund from fossil fuels shows that people recognise the vital importance of this issue. Action on climate is urgent. We don’t want our councils investing in something that currently causes thousands of deaths per year, and that will lead to a refugee crisis far worse than we have now.  Furthermore, as candidates state, the financial risk is the reason many organisations are already ditching fossil fuel investments before they become worthless, and instead investing in clean healthy solutions for the future. We urge voters to look at which of the candidates standing in their ward have signed the pledge and to vote for them’

Imran Hussain MP supports West Yorkshire Pension Fund divestment petition

IMG_0123 (2)(1).JPGAs scientists make the link between last week’s extreme weather conditions and manmade climate change (1) MP for Bradford East Imran Hussain pledged his support for a local campaign working towards transition to the low carbon economy. Imran has signed the Divest West Yorkshire Pension Fund petition, calling on the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to ‘divest’ its fossil fuel investments. (2)

Mr Hussain joins over 1200 local residents, 4 other West Yorkshire MPs, and recently the Shipley constituency Labour party who are urging the Fund to show leadership both on tackling climate change and to protect members of the pension fund. The petitioners are demanding that the fund upholds its “fiduciary duty” and takes the financial risks of climate change seriously by ditching its fossil fuel investments. This is in order to protect pensions from what Mark Carney, Governer of the Bank of England has said is the risk of ‘stranded assets’ in the form of ‘unburnable’ coal, oil and gas. (3)

Shipley Labour fossil free pic (2).jpg

Vick Jenkins, council candidate for Labour in the Shipley ward said, ‘We in Shipley Labour party are proud to support this campaign. It is increasingly clear that investments in fossil fuel companies are incompatible with the UK government’s commitments under the Paris climate change agreement to limit global temperatures to “well below” 2C. We should be investing in the future and our local communities via infrastructure such as housing, energy efficiency or renewable energy to help the transition to a low carbon economy.’

Mac Price from Fossil Free West Yorks said: “We thank Imran Hussain and Shipley Constituency Labour party for showing strong climate leadership and we welcome them to the fastest divestment movement in history, recognising the huge financial and ethical risks associated with fossil fuel investments. Bradford Council administers the Local Government Pension Scheme which currently invests over £933 million in fossil fuels. West Yorkshire Pension Fund last April acknowledged the risks to the Fund from climate change, and expressed its intention to reduce its carbon exposure. However without a timescale for action this intention is meaningless. We hope to hear more encouraging news from the Fund soon. ”

Jane Thewlis from Fossil Free West Yorks added “The arguments from West Yorkshire Pension Fund that they ‘engage’ with or talk to fossil fuel companies and will change their behaviour this way are not convincing. It is widely accepted including by the current UK government that the vast majority of known fossil fuels need to stay in the ground to keep us within safe climate limits. (4)  Recent analysis indicates that Shell and BP’s business plans would take the planet to 3 to 5 degrees warming, (5) which is highly risky for many of their investors as well as a massive threat to life. Decades of talking to fossil fuel companies has led to the grave situation we are in now (6) We need urgent political action to phase out fossil fuels.  In contrast to simply engagement or talking, divestment or action more often leads to governments changing the law, as illustrated by an Oxford University study which concluded that in almost every case divestment campaigns, including in apartheid South Africa, were successful in lobbying for restrictive legislation.”(6)

 NOTES:

New York today, Bradford tomorrow…

New York Today, Bradford Tomorrow

 

Last Saturday, fossil fuel divestment campaigners gathered in Bradford to celebrate New York City’s decision to ditch its fossil fuel investments and called on Bradford council to do likewise. To celebrate the news, the campaigners  took to the streets of Bradford singing a fossil free version of Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ classic. [1]

New York City has announced earlier this month  that it is divesting its $191 billion pension funds of fossil fuels. Bill de Blasio, New York’s mayor, also announced that the city is suing the world’s largest oil and gas companiesfor damages caused by climate change in a two-pronged assault that he said is aimed at “standing up for future generations”.

Here in West Yorkshire, the Fossil Free West Yorkshire campaign is calling on Bradford Council, which manages the West Yorkshire Pension Fund, to follow New York’s lead and sever its ties with the fossil fuel industry. The West Yorkshire Pension Fund invests £933 million in fossil fuel assets.

Notably, West Yorkshire Pension Fund’s largest fossil fuel investments are in BP and Royal Dutch Shell [2], two of the five defendantsin New York City’s federal lawsuit against the fossil fuel industry. Bradford divestment campaigners argue that the West Yorkshire Pension Fund is putting pensioners’ money at an unacceptable risk by continuing to invest in these, and other, fossil fuel companies.

Deirdre Duff  of Fossil Free West Yorkshire explained that :

‘’The fact that New York City is both divesting of fossil fuels and taking a lawsuit is very significant. Fossil fuel divestment and litigation against the fossil fuel industry have the potential to reinforce each other in generating increased market uncertainty around the future of the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel stocks have been performing badly over the last two years; this is partly due to low oil prices but is also due to the uncertainty created by climate and divestment movements and the signing of the Paris Agreement. New York City’s decision – and the precedent that it sets for other cities –could add further to this uncertainty.’’

Economists, such as Jeffrey Sachs, believe that NYC’s divestment decision could catalyze further divestment commitments and provide momentum inthe shift away from fossil fuels. [3]

Jeffrey Sachs said;

‘‘Pension funds of other major US cities will follow, I think. New York is the neighborhood of the very big money managers. It’s a powerful, personal signal to them that they cannot keep funding the sorts of projects they have in the past.”

The share price of fossil fuel companies assumes that their fossil fuel reserves will be consumed. However expert analysis has found that the industry has around five times more carbon in these reserves then can be burned if warming is to be limited to 2 degrees as agreed by World Governments.

Julie Longden  of Fossil Free West Yorkshire added:

“Although the WYPF took steps towards acknowledging the financial risk associated with fossil fuel investments last year, this has not been matched by action to divest of fossil fuels. Our local councils have a moral responsibility to ensure that local authority pension funds are not fuelling life threatening climate change and a duty to ensure they are safe from the financial risk of stranded assets. New York City’s decision is a catalyst to cities across the world and we hope that Bradford will follow its example as a matter of urgency”.

Climate change is already causing thousands of deaths per year around the world. In West Yorkshire, air pollution caused by fossil fuel combustion is also contributing to premature deaths; in Leeds alone air pollution is attributed to almost 700 premature deaths per year. [4]

New York will be the first of the US’s largest cities to divest and is one of group of global cities that have committed to ridding themselves of fossil fuel stocks, including Paris, Berlin, Sydney and Stockholm.

Notes:

  1. New York, New York
    Start spreading the news
    they’re leaving today (tell him friend)
    we want to be a part of it, New York, New York
    Our fossil free hopes, they’re growing each day
    And steps around the heart of it, New York, New York
    we wanna wake up in a city, that’s fossil free, with renewables king of the hill, top of the heap
    our small town blues, they’re melting away
    we’ll make a brand new start of it, thanks to New York
    if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere
    Thanks to you, New York, New York
    New York, New York
    We want to wake up in a city, that’s fossil free…

 

  1. WYPF top investments – https://gofossilfree.org/uk/fuellingthefire/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/11/new-york-city-fossil-fuel-divestment-spur-global-movement
  3. http://climate.leeds.ac.uk/leeds-climathon-produces-winning-solutions-for-air-quality/