ePetition details

End Kent County Council’s £350,000,000 investment in fossil fuels

We the undersigned petition the council to Immediately halt further investment in fossil fuels and to make an emergency plan to fully divest within 5 years.

Summary

Kent County Council (KCC) funds the fossil fuel industry via £350,000,000 of investments from its staff pension fund (Kent Pension Fund) [1]. By investing staff pension contributions in these companies, KCC is actively contributing to the climate emergency declared by UK Parliament [2].

What is Kent Pension Fund?

The council manages Kent Pension Fund through its Superannuation Fund Committee. The fund is the pension scheme for staff at KCC, all district councils, Medway Council, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, town and parish councils, and many schools, colleges and academies in the county.

How much is invested in the fossil fuel industry?

Currently £350,000,000 - a vast total and on the increase. In 2015 the total was £200,000,000 [3].

All of this investment adds up nationally, with UK councils collectively funding a total of £16 billion [4].

Why petition?

The fossil fuel industry is linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions [5].

The science is clear. The global warming caused by fossil fuels is the largest cause of the current emergency.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that ‘in order to limit warming to 1.5°C, emissions need to reach maximum by 2030 and achieve net zero CO2 emissions globally by 2050. A 1.5°C rise is considered the threshold for dangerous climate change.[6]” This means government at all levels – national and local – must take emergency action now.

Devastation as a result of climate change can already be seen on a global scale. Continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies contributes to the fatal wildfires, flooding and crop failure driven by warmer global temperatures.

The emergency also spells disaster for Kent. The council’s own predictions are that, at current rates of warming, the rising flooding, sea levels, heatwaves and air pollution will result in increased health problems and deaths by 2050 [7].

As a coastal county, Kent is especially vulnerable to sea level change. Predictions show we are set for radical changes to our geography in the coming decades as a result of rising sea levels driven by global warming. This will bring loss of lives, homes and businesses.

The council officially recognised the climate emergency in May 2019. This year, it claims to be “leading the way on tackling the climate emergency” by delivering its Five Year Plan [8]. Yet nowhere in the council’s plans is an acknowledgement of fossil fuel investment or a commitment to end it.

The council states it “will not select investment based upon ethical grounds” [9]. Yet in contrast to this, it is a member of The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and claims to “monitor developments on climate change and use the research undertaken to monitor and challenge our investment managers.” [10]

Based on the evidence above, the investment is unjustifiable.

What should the council do?

The council must act now to respond meaningfully to the climate emergency. It must follow the example of other councils in ending all fossil fuel investments and investing instead in sectors that protect our future [11].

• Immediately halt further investment
• Make an emergency plan to fully divest within 5 years

You can help

Please help this petition to reach 2,500+ signatures. This is the amount needed for the committee to debate the issue. If we reach 10,000 signatures then it will be debated at County Council (the highest level meeting).

I am writing this petition as a pension fund member, an former council employee, a Kent resident and as a parent.

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Sources

[1] Figure correct at January 2020.
[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48126677
[3] https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council/finance-and-budget/statement-on-the-kent-county-council-pension-fund-and-fossil-fuels
[4] Go Fossil Free campaign https://gofossilfree.org/uk/fuellingthefire/
[5] Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct

This ePetition runs from 25/02/2020 to 30/08/2020.

285 people have signed this ePetition.