1 December 2017
Reading Green Party Councillor Rob White has re-launched a petition against investment in dirty energy by the Berkshire Pension Fund, backed by Reading Council. He has called for investment to be redirected towards social housing, insulation and renewables.
Just as the United Nations’ Climate Change talks (COP23) close in Germany, a national audit reveals that UK councils have a £16 billion stake in fossil fuel industries. According to figures published in a recent report by 350.org – an organisation campaigning for 100% renewable energy – Berkshire Royal County Pension Fund, of which Reading is a member, invests more than £97 million in companies still extracting damaging coal, oil and gas from the ground.
This year has seen horrendous climate impacts around the globe, with hurricanes ravaging the Caribbean, devastating floods across South Asia, and Pacific Islanders fighting to prevent their homes from sinking into the sea. This very month, over 15,000 climate experts from 184 countries gave a catastrophic warning to humanity in the online edition of the academic journal BioScience: ‘Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out’. 350.org add that ‘keeping fossil fuels in the ground is a matter of survival for many communities around the world – we need to stand in solidarity with them, and fight for climate justice’.
Cllr White said: ‘Two years ago, world governments signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, so why is Berkshire pension fund, backed by Reading Council, still supporting the industry largely responsible for the climate crisis? It’s time to fight back against the continued investment in fossil fuels by council pension funds. If the government energy targets are to be met, the fossil fuel industry will have to decline. Reading Council should be lobbying Berkshire pension fund to direct pension fund investment into building energy-efficient social housing, insulating homes and renewables.’
Sign the petition to demand that Berkshire pension fund immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels as well as divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years:
 Lander, R. 2017. Councils: Fuelling The Fire, A new report on the local government pension scheme and fossil fuels. [pdf] 350.org. Available at: <https://gofossilfree.org/uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/11/Councils-Fuelling-the-Fire-Online-1.3.pdf> [Accessed 1 December 2017]
 Ripple, W., et al. 2017. ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice’. Bioscience, [online]. Available at: <https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/bix125/4605229> [Accessed 1 December 2017]
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