Rob Platts on why Waltham Forest Council should end its £24m investment in fossil fuels
If you are interested in either environmentalism or the financial markets, you may already have heard about the growing movement to divest from fossil fuels. The campaign calls on institutions to remove their investments from companies involved in producing oil, coal or gas, for both moral and financial reasons.
The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, Norway’s government pension fund, has done it. The Guardian Media Group has done it. The British Medical Association has done it. Several universities have done it, and now several local councils are discussing it too.
The arguments are simple: 1) If global warming is to be limited below 2C up to 80 percent of known carbon reserves must be left in the ground; 2) the fossil fuel industry already holds vast carbon reserves, which could result in emissions five times greater than that deemed safe; 3) the necessary emissions targets will create ‘stranded assets’ for fossil fuel companies; 4) shares invested in fossil fuels support a business model incompatible with international agreements on climate change.
The instability of the fossil fuel market is dubbed the ‘carbon bubble’ and could plunge us into another economic crisis. HSBC warned clients about the risks of fossil fuel investments, while Bank of England governor Mark Carney said losses were “potentially huge”.
In Waltham Forest, members of local branches of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have held stalls to raise awareness of the sum Waltham Forest Council’s pension fund has invested in the fossil fuel industry. Accounts for 2014/15 indicate this figure to be at least £24million.
We have now formed Divest Waltham Forest, a campaign aimed at ending this investment. The people we’ve met so far have been very surprised at this huge sum of money, and keen to lend their support. We hope you will be too.
On Wednesday 11th November we are holding a free screening of the short film Do The Math made by 350.org. Come along to Ye Olde Rose & Crown on Hoe Street at 8.45pm. Join us if you’d like to find out more about divestment.