Council investment in firms producing climate-changing fossil fuels will come to an end as a result of a community campaign backed by Liberal Democrats.
The Council announced this week that the borough’s Pension Fund Trustees have agreed a new set of investment principles which aim to phase out Southwark’s investment in gas, oil and coal, and to explore investment in renewable energy instead.
Southwark Liberal Democrat councillors have welcomed the move after working with campaigners from Fossil-Free Southwark over the past year to push the Council to stop investing in energy that damages the environment and increases carbon emissions.
Over 100 Southwark residents die prematurely every year due to poor air quality caused by emissions from vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Flooding caused by more frequent heavy rainfall and storms is also an issue in parts of the borough.
The Council’s Pension Fund has £1.2billion worth of assets and is used to fund staff pensions. Around £60million of the Fund is currently invested in fossil fuel companies, such as Shell, BP, Total, BHP Billiton, Chevron and Exxon Mobil.
Commenting on the change of heart by the Council, Southwark’s Liberal Democrat Pensions Advisory Panel member, Councillor Eliza Mann, said:
“I am delighted that the Council has finally promised to end Southwark’s investment in fossil fuels. The decision follows our previous success persuading the Council to end its investment in tobacco companies.
“Every day in Southwark we see the health impact of fossil fuels with air pollution on the rise. Residents with breathing problems are forced to stay indoors and some even die from the poor air quality around the borough’s main roads.
“Liberal Democrats have been working with the Fossil-Free Southwark campaign for the past year on this issue, so it’s good that we have finally been listened to. It also makes financial sense because fossil fuels are an increasingly risky investment.
“The Council’s policy of backing fossil fuels flew in the face of all the other steps it is taking to reduce its environmental impact. Southwark Liberal Democrats will continue to fight residents’ corner for a cleaner, greener borough.”