Announcement comes week after launch of campaign urging divestment
Hammersmith & Fulham Council's administration has announced it is ending council investments in fossil fuel companies - just one week after the launch of a campaign urging it to divest from the industry.
The campaign, part of Divest London, which is supported by Friends of the Earth and Fossil Free, was launched on Thursday 9 March. It claims that around £45 million worth of pension fund money has been invested by H&F in companies associated with fossil fuel extracts.
Campaigners said it was launched is in response to council leader Stephen Cowan’s stated aim to make Hammersmith and Fulham 'the greenest borough in the country' and local environmental issues that have arisen in relation to air pollution and the planned Heathrow Airport expansion.
Now the council says that, with the risk of increased flooding in the borough and climate change posing a danger to lives and livelihoods worldwide, the administration has taken the decision to lead by example.
The biggest investments of the council are in its staff pension fund. The members of the council's pension sub-committee, although not Trustees, decide independently on investment decisions, with their main responsibility being to the long term viability of the fund and its ability to meet its liabilities.
Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the Council said: " We see this as an important commitment, alongside other green initiatives such as increasing the use of electric cars, making the borough safer for cyclists and pedestrians, protecting against flooding, cutting the use of pesticides and taking measures to improve air quality."
The decision follows a special motion to council earlier this year, in which councillors agreed that climate change was one of the greatest threats of our times and that action was needed at all levels of government to tackle it.
As well as making the commitment on investments, H&F Council is putting in place new low emission bus zones, has continued to fight government plans for a new runway at Heathrow, and has consulted on plans for making cycle routes safer for both cyclists and pedestrians. The council is planning to create green corridors enabling the free movement of wildlife in the borough.
H&F also held a resident-led commission to fight pollution, which recommended improvements in planning and transport policy, green initiatives and public health changes to address the risks to people in Hammersmith & Fulham from air pollution.
“We believe in leading by example, and that is exactly what this undertaking involves,” said Cllr Cowan.
“We want to ensure our investments are good for the borough, and good for us as an authority, but we also want them to be good for future generations – and our new commitment will help us work towards that.”
campaign has been launched to persuade Hammersmith and Fulham council to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry.
The campaign is also part of a London-wide divestment movement that has already seen Waltham Forest and Southwark borough decide to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry.
Research has shown that in order to meet the target of no more than 2°C of warming set at the Paris COP21 conference, up to 80% of known carbon reserves must be left in the ground.
The divestment movement has sought to show that this makes fossil fuels a dangerous investment as well as a danger to the planet and says to date, more than $5 trillion has been divested from the fossil fuel industry as a result of this movement.
Hammersmith and Fulham Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Morag Carmichael says: " Climate change is a justice issue in that the countries that contribute the least to climate change are the most likely to be heavily affected. I'm sure that our current council, which is very progressive on issues of justice and making life better for all, will see this."
Campaigner Lewis Coenen-Rowe says: " While the council’s green aims are praise-worthy, it is inconsistent for them to pursue this agenda on a local level, while ignoring how their investment policy contributes to pollution on a global scale."
The campaign has launched an online petition calling on the council to:
Immediately freeze any new investment made by the Hammersmith and Fulham pension fund or Hammersmith and Fulham council itself in top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies with largest known carbon reserves (oil, coal, and gas)
Divest from any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds in the top 200 list and shift these funds to ethical and environmentally friendly investments within 5 years
Ensure the security of this move by advocating that the London Collective Investment Vehicle include a choice of multiple fossil free equity funds within its portfolio that will enable divested councils to fully commit to their pledges
Campaigners say they aim to collaborate closely with members of the council in order to find a workable solution.
Hammersmith and Fulham Friends of the Earth meanwhile meet on the second Tuesday of each month at Pret a Manger, on the corner of Lyric Square and King Street, starting at 7.15pm. The next meetings are on 14 March and 11 April.
Find out more here .
March 10, 2017