MP calls on Southwark Council to stop investing millions in fossil fuels

News Desk (21 April, 2016) Politics

£60.6m of the council’s £1.2bn pension fund is in fossil fuels is in the hands of fossil fuel companies, which have 'lost the council money'

8993Barbara Selby of Fossil Free Southwark protesting outside the council's Tooley Street offices in 2016

Labour MP Neil Coyle has co-signed a letter to the News calling on Southwark Council to take millions of pounds out of fossil fuel investments.

The Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP joined human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, vicar Giles Goddard, Green Party chair Colin Boyle, Law Centre director Sally Causer and Greenpeace chair Jean-Charles Roghi.

Working with the Fossil Free Southwark campaign, their letter hopes to highlight how the “unethical” investments of the council’s pension fund are also wasting money.

Their joint letter says: “…Every penny of our tax that ends up in fossil fuels helps exacerbate global warming and air pollution.

“It also makes good business sense to divest, as fossil fuels have performed poorly in recent years, and are at risk of becoming even less financially viable.”

Mr Coyle also told the News: “I think they should take the same approach with fossil fuel investments as they have did with tobacco, where they took their investments out of those a few years ago.”

Data acquired by Fossil Free Southwark using Freedom of Information requests shows that £60.6m of the council’s £1.2bn pension fund is in fossil fuels.

£59.1m of this is invested by fund managers acting on the council’s behalf, while the council itself has £1.47m directly invested in fossil-fuel firm Suncor Energy.

Fossil Free Southwark say the plummeting value of crude oil has meant “poor” investments cost the council 2.4m last year.

Councillor Fiona Colley, cabinet member for finance, said: “Our main considerations when investing the pension fund have to be our ability to provide secure pensions for our staff and value for money for council taxpayers.

“Of course ethical considerations are important too, but we think there are more effective ways of using our pension fund to have a positive impact. Selling our shares would have very little impact on multi-million pound industries. Instead we are working collectively with other funds and shareholders to lobby big business to make positive changes.

“Contrary to what the protesters say, if we were to divest from fossil fuels it would cost the fund. All of these factors will feed into a wider review of our investment strategy later this year.”

Read editorial: On fossil fuel investments, Southwark Council should be nailing its colours to the mast

 

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