All aboard the Fossil Free Ark

All aboard the Fossil Free Ark
People (and ‘animals’) from across West Yorkshire boarded a ‘Fossil Free Ark’ in Bradford City Park on Saturday 13 May, as part of ongoing calls for West Yorkshire Pension Fund, managed by Bradford Council, to fully commit to ditching its fossil fuel investments.. The campaigners invited Bradford Council and WYPF to get on board the #FossilFree Ark to escape the floods and extreme weather caused by climate change. The family friendly afternoon celebrated clean renewable energy sources such as sun, wind and wave power, and how the investments of our local councils and pension funds could help West Yorkshire sail into a clean, safe and prosperous future.
Fossil Free West Yorkshire
The WYPF has recently taken some first steps away from fossil fuels by recognising that climate change poses financial risks to pensions, and seeking to cut its exposure to fossil fuels which contribute to climate change. Jane Thewlis from Fossil Free West Yorkshire commented: “It is great news that the West Yorkshire Pension Fund has recently taken its first steps away from fossil fuel investments, but now it needs to set a firm 5 year target for divestment both to avoid the financial risk of exposure to unburnable fossil fuels and to protect West Yorkshire citizens and pension fund members from extreme weather.”
The Fossil Free Ark event was joined by Bradford Councillor Hawaran Hussain. Councillor Hussain commented: “Extreme weather from climate change is already affecting people around the world from the recent flooding in West Yorkshire to heatwaves in Pakistan and India. The UK Government recently stated that over 70% of known fossil fuel reserves cannot be burnt in order to stay within safe climate limits”.
Piers Telemacque, Bradford resident and former NUS Vice-President, also spoke at the event: “The clock is ticking as sea levels rise and we are seeing day by day the increased effects of climate change. Floods in West Yorkshire and vast changes to weather systems at the other side of the globe are not isolated incidents. People recognise the need for change. But most efforts are met with resistance from big corporations who have a vested interest in extracting fossil fuels, destroying the planet and making big money. We need a global solution on climate change, not next month, not next year but now.”
All aboard the #FossilFree Ark
The event included kids’ activities such as face-painting and making paper boats as well as a Fossil Free singalong. Some campaigners were dressed as animals ready to board the #Fossil Free Ark, holding banners saying ‘Save the Humans’.
The Fossil Free West Yorkshire events are part of a wave of actions across 42 countries on six continents as part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation, calling on institutions to end their investments in fossil fuel companies responsible for blocking action on climate change. From the 5th – 13th May, hundreds of actions will take place around the world, including over 40 in the UK calling on local government, faith, health, cultural institutions, politicians and banks to show moral leadership and end their support for the fossil fuel industry. More information: fossilfreewypf.

Notes for editors

West Yorkshire Pension Fund
All England and Wales local authority pension funds had to produce new “Investment Strategy Statements” (ISS) by 1st April 2017, replacing the old “Statement of Investment Principles”. The West Yorkshire Pension Fund’s new ISS has added a section on climate change to its “Risk” chapter. This reflects the growing calls over the last three from the financial sector and NGOs that funds must assess and deal with the financial risks that climate change poses..
The new section 5.3 states:
“The fund recognises the risks and opportunities associated with climate change, and will seek to measure carbon exposure within the equity portfolio and reduce that exposure over time. The fund will continue to increase investment in low carbon technology and renewable energy in order to encourage and facilitate further progression toward a cleaner economy”.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
The divestment movement saw its beginnings in North America, Europe and Australia and has since become the fastest growing divestment movement in history.  
Global commitments to divest have already reached 710 institutions across 76 countries, representing well over US$5.5 trillion in assets under management.
As climate denialists take office and commit to regress on climate action in the face of increased climate impacts worldwide, divestment provides a tangible way for individuals and institutions to show leadership on tackling climate change.  
The Global Divestment Mobilisation marks a new turning point for the global fossil fuel divestment movement, which is now spreading in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
In the UK, over 40 events will be taking place as part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation calling on local government, faith, health, cultural institutions, politicians and banks to divest from fossil fuels.

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