Press release from Divest Surrey, 9 November 2017
National data released today has revealed that Surrey County Council is investing over £159 million in the fossil fuel industry through their management of the council pension fund . Campaigners say the controversial investments threaten the climate and also represent an unacceptable financial risk to pension-holders.
The release of the ‘Fuelling the Fire’ report and data coincides with the international climate talks taking place in Bonn, Germany, which the UK government is attending. It highlights the incompatibility of the UK’s climate action promises with continued investment in the fossil fuel industry.
On Friday 10 November, divestment campaigners will attend a meeting of the Surrey Pension Fund Committee and ask them to prioritise taking funds out of fossil fuels and move them to investments that are better future-proofed. Campaigners have been engaging with the Pension Fund for three years, and Surrey’s Green Councillor Jonathan Essex has called on Surrey County Council’s Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels. 
Steve McDonald (who lives in Dorking) of the Divest Surrey Campaign Group, who is attending the meeting, said:
“It’s shocking to see our council investing so significantly in such a financially risky and morally bankrupt industry.
“Two years ago, our government agreed to the Paris Treaty – pledging that the UK, along with the rest of the world, would take real action to tackle climate change.
“The fact that Surrey County Council continues to invest pensioners’ money in the companies responsible for the crisis flies in the face of the Paris agreement and all the efforts people are making to reduce emissions and combat climate change.”
Ellen Gibson, Divestment Campaigner with 350.org added:
“With hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, wildfires ravaging southern Europe and flooding and drought destroying lives across the world – the impacts of climate change are hitting hard.
“Despite this, UK councils are still ploughing billions into companies like Shell, BP and Suncor, who have spent decades fuelling the crisis, and profiting on its back.
“Our councils, and all public institutions, must cut their ties with fossil fuel companies.”
The data and online map released by 350.org, Platform and Friends of the Earth ranks councils by their fossil fuel investments, and allows residents to see every company or fund their local council has invested in.
So far two UK council pension funds have made full divestment commitments, and four have made partial commitments . The campaign to divest local council pensions has this year received backing from Unison and the TUC .
- To view the full national data set and for more information, visit: gofossilfree.org/uk/fuellingthefire
- For Cllr Essex’s questions to the Surrey Pension Fund and their response, see http://redhillgreens.org.uk
- Waltham Forest and Southwark Council Pension Funds have committed to phase out all fossil fuel investments from their portfolio. To see the full list of global divestment commitments, visit: gofossilfree.org/commitments
- Read more on Unison’s decision on Platform’s blog. View the text of the TUC motion – adopted unanimously – on the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy website