Alliance Councillor Calls For Fossil Fuel Divestment.
Rowallene Alliance Party Councillor Patrick Brown has proposed a motion at the March meeting of Newry Mourne and Down District Council calling for the divestment of Councillor’s pension funds from the fossil fuel industry.
The motion reads as follows: This Council calls on the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) to divest the Local Government pension scheme from any fossil fuel companies within 2 years. This will give NILGOSC ample time to exit the market at the best time ensuring no adverse impact on the pension fund.
If the motion is successful it will be a significant step forward for Northern Ireland in the move towards slowing global warming.
Speaking about the motion Cllr Brown said: ‘NILGOSC currently has £317 million pounds invested in the fossil fuel industry with companies including Shell, BP and Centrica. This is not only poor practice from an ethical point of view given the current climate crisis, but it is also a poor investment in the long-term and puts member’s pensions at risk. Since 1998, just 100 fossil fuel companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and they continue to search for even more fossil fuel reserves. This is despite the fact that if we are to meet the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement and keep warming below 2°C, we must start radically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
“Climate change is a global crisis, but we cannot rely on governments and multilateral agreements alone – tackling climate change requires local action too. That is why I have decided to bring this motion forward, which has the support and input of grassroots campaign groups Friends of the Earth and Fossil Free NI. Full divestment would no doubt require the support of most if not all Councils in NI, and I believe Newry Mourne and Down can lead the way in creating the political momentum needed for NILGOSC to divest. This will clearly demonstrate Council’s commitment to tackling climate change and if passed NMD would be the first Council in NI to lead the way on this issue, joining over 20 Councils in the rest of the UK which have either divested or passed motions calling for divestment.
“We would also be joining an effective and growing global movement for divestment, with over 1,000 organisations involved and almost $8 trillion dollars of assets divested so far. It’s clear that divesting would put Newry, Mourne and Down on the right side of history.
“There are two main reasons why divestment by public sector bodies at any level is a highly effective strategy: firstly, it hits fossil fuel companies where it hurts – their pockets. Fossil fuel companies are genuinely scared of divestment and the impact it could have on their bottom line. Falling profit margins is the best way to encourage them to move their business models away from fossil fuel production into less harmful ventures.
“Secondly, divestment is actually a smart financial management strategy. Given the inherent economic risks faced by the fossil fuel industry from climate change agreements and the strong performance of non-fossil fuel energy companies, member’s pensions would be better off in the long run by divesting. Indeed, it’s estimated that New York City, which has committed to divesting its entire $189 billion pension fund from all fossil fuel companies within five years, would have been $15 billion better off had it divested 10 years ago.
“I hope that Councillors will chose to support this motion on Monday evening. It’s time that NILGOSC got on the right side of history and divested from fossil fuels, if not for the clear ecological and ethical reasons, then for the good of its member’s pension packages.’
“This motion has support from various environmental groups in NI, with V’Cenza Cirefice from Fossil Free South Down commenting: “Our group welcomes and fully supports this motion for divestment. As a group of very concerned local citizens we would love to see leadership on this issue from our representatives. Divestment will protect people’s pensions and human lives from the devastating impacts of climate change. The UN has told us we only have 12 years left to take action, passing this motion would demonstrate that Newry Mourne and Down takes this risk seriously.”