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Councils Urged to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Stroud District Councillor Martin Baxendale is urging the Gloucestershire Local Government Pension Fund to go fossil free, in a motion to be put before the council.

The motion will seek the District Council’s commitment for an immediate freeze on new investments in fossil fuels and divestment from any business involved in the exploration or production of fossil fuels within 5 years. Other councils with staff pensions within the Gloucestershire Local Government Pension Fund are asked to pass similar motions in favour of divestment from fossil fuels within the fund.

The divestment motion will be taken up at the Stroud District Council meeting Thursday 27th October and will be seconded by Labour colleagues in the Progressive Alliance.

Martin Baxendale, Green Councillor for Stroud Valley ward, who is bringing forward the motion, said: “Stroud District Council and Gloucestershire County Council can show they are serious about climate change and divest from fossil fuels”

“Divesting from fossil fuels would highlight the destructive influence of the oil and gas industry and encourage people to invest more in ethical, cleaner businesses such as renewable energy.”

Baxendale pointed to the example of the Waltham Forest Pension Fund in London which became the first UK fund to go fossil free starting in September.

This motion is being brought forward as UK Councils have invested £14 billion of their pension funds into fossil fuels.

“Climate Change is the biggest threat facing us, and to counter this threat, we need to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels. Scientists have warned that to avoid uncontrollable climate change, two thirds of available fossil fuels must remain in the ground,” said Cllr. Martin Baxendale.

In addition to the climate risk presented by the continued extraction of fossil fuels, there is a looming economic risk. A recent report claims that the LGPS (Local Government Pensions Scheme) has, over the past 18 months, seen a sharp decline in the value of its holdings in coal. The LGPS provides pensions for 4.6 million people and these people could see the value of their future pensions eroded if fund managers fail to incorporate climate change and carbon risk into their investment strategy. Pension fund managers could ultimately be sued if they ignore these risks.

Stroud Green Party will be holding a stall on Saturday 22nd October in Stroud from 10am-2pm to collect signatures asking that Gloucestershire County Council Pension fund divests from fossil fuels.