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Bristol City Council votes in favour of ‘fossil free’ pensions

Councillors have this evening voted in favour of Avon Pension Fund becoming ‘fossil free’. Full Council voted for a motion1 put forward by Green Party councillors at tonight’s Full Council meeting. A petition and many statements from the public were also tabled in support of the motion, which calls for Bristol City Council to take the lead in calling for the fund to develop a strategy to divest from fossil fuels. Bristol City Council and its neighbouring authorities have seats on the Avon Pension Fund Committee, in which Council employees’ pensions are invested.

Green Councillor for Redland, Martin Fodor who tabled the motion said:

 “I am delighted that the council will be taking a lead in calling for Avon Pension fund to become ‘fossil free’ and diversify into renewables and energy efficiency. We are proud of the Council’s commitment earlier this year not to invest in any fossil fuel industries2, and it’s now time for our pension funds to follow suit.”

“There is a growing realisation that divesting from fossil fuels is not just good for the environment, it is a sound financial judgement too. Investment in the fossil fuel industry is increasingly risky given that the sector is likely to fall in value - sooner rather than later. This is a view shared by Mark Carney, Government of the Bank of England3 and Sir Nicholas Stern, former Chief economist of the World Bank. 75% of fossil fuels need to stay in the ground to avoid dangerous climate change4. This means that fossil fuel industries are not only causing untold damage, but are on the way out and now is the time to invest in alternatives.”

Mark Hubbard chair of Bristol UNISON, who recently voted to support fossil free pensions said:

"Bristol UNISON has 5,000 members working in Bristol City Council and hundreds of community organisations. Our members want their pension investments to be green and sustainable."

Green Councillor for Clifton East, Carla Denyer, who has also been actively campaigning to get the University of Bristol to go fossil free5, including tabling a motion to the University’s governance body said: 

“Divesting from fossil fuels is good for the environment and also good for all of us who want a safe and secure pension in the future. As major funds around the world move out of fossil fuels, let’s encourage our local pension provider to invest in technologies with a future: energy efficiency, renewables and energy storage.”

 

Notes

  1. Motion to Full Council https://www2.bristol.gov.uk/committee/2015/ta/ta000/1215_a.pdf  on page 5. 
  2. Bristol Council goes Fossil Free: http://gofossilfree.org/uk/press-release/bristol-mayor-commits-to-keeping-city-money-out-of-deadly-fossil-fuels/
  3. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England recently highlighted that “financing the decarbonisation of our economy is a major opportunity for insurers as long-term investors.” http://www.moneymarketing.co.uk/boes-carney-warns-climate-change-poses-risks-to-financial-stability/
  4. Leading experts, including Nicholas Stern, have warned that if we are to stay below a two degree increase in global temperatures, approximately 75% of the current fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground.  
  5. Green Councillors have been part of the campaign calling for Bristol university to go fossil free: 

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