Bradford council has just voted (Tuesday 20 October 2015) to carry out a review of the carbon investments of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to assess the implications of divesting from the fossil fuel sector. The review will take six months to complete.
Green Councillor Kevin Warnes proposed the motion, highlighting the growing worldwide movement to divest from fossil fuels. He quoted Desmond Tutu’s statement about the need to “break ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change” and called on Bradford to play its part “in carbon budgeting in order to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius”.
Cllr Warnes warned against the risks of ‘stranded assets’, arguing that “we need to ask ourselves if we should hold on to fossil fuel equities whose inflated value is based on reserves of oil, coal and gas, bearing in mind that these companies will not be allowed to extract and sell because we are going to decarbonise our economies”. He also pointed out that the Governor of the Bank of England had recently raised concerns about unburnable carbon and the growing financial risks associated with fossil fuel equities.
Simon Bullock of Friends of the Earth said, “There are moral and financial reasons why our pensions should not invest in companies who are making climate change worse. Full credit to Bradford councillors for ordering a review on this issue”.
Campaigners at the meeting said, “This is a fantastic step forward for Bradford, who are hopefully now on the road to join Kirklees, Bristol and Oxford councils, the Church of England, and several leading UK universities, who are supporting fossil fuel divestment.”
Jane Thewlis WYPF member, Bradford resident and campaigner with Fossil Free West Yorkshire Pension Fund said “I am delighted the council has taken this step to address climate change and consider divesting. Fossil fuels need to be kept in the ground. We will continue to raise awareness and campaign for full divestment”.