Guest post by Fossil Free Oxfordshire
It has been another year of local floods, escalating climate-related disasters abroad and record breaking global temperatures, and yet fossil fuel companies still explore for new reserves of coal, oil and gas. Wiltshire Council and the Church of England are among many large scale institutions to have recognised the madness of fossil fuel investments and committed to divest.
Fossil Free Oxfordshire has been campaigning for the past 10 years for the complete divestment of the Oxfordshire local government pension fund from fossil fuels. The Oxfordshire County Council Pension Fund Committee, which acts as trustees of the fund, is composed of county councillors. The committee has recently changed to include new Green and Labour councillors from Oxford. This is a good time to lobby the pension fund committee to reach our divestment goal. Can you help us by lobbying the committee members?
You could help out by simply emailing the councillors listed in the table below, or, if you are a constituent of one, by arranging a meeting with the councillor or helping us organize a meeting with them. We will support you in all of these activities (for example accompanying you to a meeting).
We have enclosed a template text for your email at the end of this message. We encourage you to change it and use your own words. (The template requests a meeting which might not be appropriate for you.)
If you send an email please cc and forward replies to Andrew Finney on email@example.com. It would be helpful if you could tell Andrew if you live in the ward of one of the councillors listed below or if you manage to arrange a meeting, especially if you would like support to prepare for it, or for one of us to come along with you.
If you are unsure whether you are a constituent of one of the councillors you can check using https://www.writetothem.com/. It does not matter if you live outside these wards: the more people involved the better! Feel free to write to all the Committee members.
Please contact Andrew if you have any questions or insights.
|Kennington & Radley
|University Parks, Oxford
|St Margaret’s, Oxford
Subject: Divesting the Oxfordshire Local Government Pension Scheme
Dear Councillor <Name>,
We have recently experienced local floods and an escalation in international climate-related disasters as a result of burning fossil fuels. We have already exceeded 1.5C degrees warming. As a result I believe it is incumbent on all elected politicians to do their utmost to tackle this issue. Your role on Oxfordshire Pension Fund Committee is a major opportunity to play your part.
Whilst there has been some progress to decarbonize the Oxfordshire Pension Fund (OPF) the changes are not occurring at a fast enough pace. I believe a public commitment to divest the OPF from fossil fuel producers backed by asset reallocation on a 2 year time scale would be more commensurate with the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.
The OPF has argued that divestment does not bring about change in the wider economy. Is a policy that does not target the core drivers of climate change – the fossil fuel industry – and ignores the opportunity to make an influential public declaration really the most effective one? The OPF has also argued that divestment ends the ability to engage with the fossil fuel sector. However, many years of engagement have failed to change the operations of the fossil fuel majors who continue investment in exploration and production in defiance of the recommendations of scientists and even the International Energy Agency. Major investors such as the Church of England and the PFZW, the pension fund for workers in the Dutch healthcare and welfare sector have decided that engagement is not working and are divesting from Fossil Fuels.
Now is not the time for empty commitments. Effective policy changes to address climate change over the next 2 years at OPF must include the following.
- The reallocation of funds away from the Global High Alpha fund which contains significant investments in fossil fuel majors.
- The acceleration of the transition to a FTSE250 fund for UK equities.
- The adoption of exclusion criteria for Fossil Fuel producers as part of all fund management.
We appreciate the work you are already doing as a member of the Pension Fund Committee. It is a role with significant responsibility and little recognition. We are asking that you take time to consider the wider context and the impact that the OPF will have on global heating both in our local community and globally and take action.
I would really like to meet you to discuss this further. Could we meet online or in person in the next few weeks?