Fuelling the Fire

New report reveals West Yorkshire Pension Fund investing £933 Million in climate-wrecking companies

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UK — National data released today (Thursday 9 November 2017) has revealed that West Yorkshire councils are investing £933 million in the fossil fuel industry through the West Yorkshire Pension Fund (WYPF) [1]. Campaigners say the controversial investments threaten the climate and also represent an unacceptable financial risk to pension-holders.

The release of the ‘Fuelling the Fire’ report and data coincides with UN international climate talks taking place in Bonn, Germany, which the UK government is attending. It highlights the incompatibility of the UK’s climate action promises with continued investment in the fossil fuel industry.

Fossil Free West Yorkshire campaigners attended the WYPF Annual Members’ Meeting on 1 November 2017 in Bradford’s City Hall, where they asked questions about how the pension fund is managing climate risk. Ali Stopher from Fossil Free West Yorkshire said “It’s shocking to see our Pension Fund investing so significantly in such a financially risky and morally bankrupt industry. Earlier this year WYPF said they wanted to reduce their carbon exposure.  We want them to put a timescale on this that is consistent with the Paris Treaty target to keep the world’s warming to 1.5 degrees.”

Fossil Free West Yorkshire campaigners and members of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund highlighting WYPF's Fossil Fuel investments
Fossil Free West Yorkshire campaigners and members of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund highlighting WYPF’s Fossil Fuel investments

 

Fossil free campaigners around the UK were supported this summer by motions in support of fossil fuel divestment for local authority pension funds at the national conferences of UNISON, the public service union, and the TUC. Cath Kinder from Kirklees UNISON said, UNISON’s decision to divest shows that the big fossil fuel companies are not part of our future. Stranded fossil fuel assets threaten our pensions. Investing instead into clean energy, public transport, and social housing can revitalise our economy.”

Ellen Gibson, Divestment Campaigner with 350.org added:

“With hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, wildfires ravaging southern Europe and flooding and drought destroying lives across the world – the impacts of climate change are hitting hard. Despite this, UK councils are still plowing billions into companies like Exxon, Shell and BP who have spent decades fuelling the crisis, and profiting on its back. “Climate change isn’t a problem for future generations – it’s happening now, and action has never been more urgent. Our councils, and all public institutions, must cut their ties with the fossil fuel companies responsible and divest.”

The data and online map released by 350.org, Platform and Friends of the Earth ranks councils by their fossil fuel investments, and allows residents to see every company or fund their local council has invested in.

Full divestment commitments have so far been made by two UK council pension funds, with a further four making partial commitments [2]. The campaign to divest local council pensions has this year received backing from Unison and the TUC [3].

 

All aboard the Fossil Free ArkAll aboard the Fossil Free Ark – Fossil Free West Yorkshire film with data from #FuellingtheFire report: https://vimeo.com/241592222

 

 

 

NOTES

  1. To view the full national data set and for more information, visit: org/uk/fuellingthefire
  2. 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: org/commitments

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

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