Why Enfield Council must ditch fossil fuels

Georgina Bavetta from Divest Enfield is calling on the council to remove fossil fuels from its pension fund

Oil rig

An oil rig off the coast of Brazil (credit Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons)

If you’re lucky enough to have a pension, it’s normal not to know a lot about what your pension fund invests in on your behalf. That’s fair enough – it’s difficult to find out and life is short.

But recent investigations have shown that our pension funds end up investing in some quite sinister things. Freedom of Information requests reveal that Enfield Council’s pension fund, which council workers and teaching assistants in our borough pay into, has more than £60million invested in coal, oil and gas companies.

This is bad because fossil fuel companies are increasingly seen as an immoral investment. They knew about climate change as long ago as the 1970s and they have spent decades undermining action to tackle it. There are currently more fossil fuel reserves held by these companies than will ever be safe for us to burn. Their business models will lead to a devastating future.

But as well as being immoral, fossil fuel companies are becoming risky investments. As clean energy becomes cheaper, fossil fuels become ‘stranded assets’ that no longer make a return for the people who invest in them. Even people like Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, are now warning about this. If you have savings in the London Borough of Enfield Pension Fund, they are at risk of under performing. Fossil free pension funds now do either as well, or even better, than ones invested in fossil fuels.

Divest Enfield is a growing group of people campaigning to get the council to remove (‘divest’) its investments in fossil fuels. The best way to stop coal, oil and gas companies from holding back progress on clean energy is to rob them of their power. Divestment campaigns work – it was a global divestment campaign which helped bring down the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was involved in that campaign, is now calling for “an Apartheid-style boycott to save the planet”.

Divest Enfield is part of a global movement. Across the world, funds worth £4.5trillion have already divested, including the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, New York City Pension Fund, and the Church of England.

We have backers locally too. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called on London boroughs to divest their pension funds of fossil fuels. Already, Islington, Southwark and Waltham Forest have done so. In Enfield we have also now won pledges from all three local MPs to back a similar campaign to divest the Parliamentary Pension Fund.

The council claims it is doing all it can to fight climate change, but while it says this, it helps to fund the fossil fuel companies devastating our future via its pension investments. We are calling on them to divest, for a clean tomorrow and future-proofed pensions.

So many people feel powerless to do anything about climate change, but this is something powerful we can do locally. Get involved by simply writing to your Enfield councillors and asking them to divest – use the quick and easy tool at writetothem.com.

For more information and to join the campaign:
Email [email protected]
Tweet @DivestEnfield
Visit campaigns.gofossilfree.org/p/divestenfield