Fresh call for council to quit fossil fuel investments

Pension committee urged to commit to divestment deadline, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Enfield Council cabinet members celebrate declaring a 'climate emergency'
Enfield Council’s ‘climate emergency’ declaration in July 2019 included a pledge to divest from fossil fuel firms

Enfield Council’s pension committee is facing a renewed call to set out a timeline for pulling out of fossil fuel investments.

Campaign group Divest Enfield warned that, despite the council declaring a climate emergency two years ago, its pension fund remains invested in “some of the world’s most polluting companies”.

Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, which is causing climate change. The council’s climate action plan, published last year, includes a commitment to “achieve 100% divestment of fossil fuels from all council pension funds” by 2025. 

But Adam McGibbon, a spokesperson for Divest Enfield, claimed the pension committee itself “still can’t say when it plans to divest from fossil fuels”.

Adam said: “As the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow approaches, the pension committee is exposing council taxpayers and pension scheme members to unacceptable and mounting financial risk. 

“Were the warm words from Enfield Council’s leadership two years ago just hot air?

“With elections next year, voters want to see a greener council – will Enfield be able to say they’ve taken climate change seriously?”

The council declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and pledged to cut its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. 

Research published in February by Friends of the Earth and Platform London stated that 2.6% of the council’s pension fund holdings – £30million in total – were in firms linked to fossil fuel extraction, including Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell.

But the council now claims to have reduced its pension investment in fossil fuels to around 0.9%.

It is one of the claims made in a progress report one year on from the publication of the climate action plan. The report adds that the pension committee has developed a responsible investment policy that “commits to reducing exposure to fossil fuels and reducing carbon impacts”, although it admits that its targets are less ambitious than those in the climate action plan.

The report also reveals that officers were “tasked with creating a plan to progress with divestment” at a meeting of the pension committee in March.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “Enfield Council has reduced its pension investment in fossil fuels to less than 1% and continues to engage with Divest Enfield.”

Further actions to reduce carbon emissions set out in the progress report include planting 50,000 trees at Enfield Chase, switching 95% of street light bulbs to LEDs, launching twelve ‘school streets’ where traffic is restricted, and beginning the installation of 80 electric vehicle charging points.

Enfield Council has invited residents to share their views on the climate action plan progress report by 11.59pm on Sunday, 5th September:
Email [email protected]
Visit
 https://new.enfield.gov.uk/consultations/2021-08-09-climate-action-plan-progress-report-and-carbon-emi/