The Fossil Free Oxfordshire campaign presented a petition of over 1200 signatures to the Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet, at their meeting on Tuesday February 24th at 2pm.
The petition calls on the Council to:
1. Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels;
2. Within 5 years, divest from all direct ownership, and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds.
Fossil Free Oxfordshire is part of a global movement highlighting the urgent need to stop investing in companies that continue to exploit and explore for new fossil fuel reserves which the planet cannot afford to burn.
Proven fossil fuel reserves contain four times the world’s remaining ‘carbon budget’ – that is the amount of carbon that can ever be released into the atmosphere, if the world is to remain within safe climate limits. This means the majority of reserves on which fossil fuel company assets depend can never be burned and will become “stranded assets”.
Prof Alan Allport spoke about the petition at the Cabinet meeting. He quoted Professor Lord Stern and his colleagues: “The scale of this carbon budget deficit poses a major risk to investors. They need to understand that 60 – 80% of coal, oil and gas reserves of listed firms are unburnable.” Prof Allport appealed to the Cabinet: “Please don’t sleepwalk into this danger”.
Al Chisholm of Fossil Free Oxfordshire said “Oxford City Council has taken a strong lead by including fossil fuel companies amongst the exclusions in its ethical investment policy. Now we want Oxfordshire County Council to move nearly £50 million away from fossil fuel companies and put it into investments that are less financially risky and better for the planet”.
On February 14th student, county and church campaigners in Oxford joined hundreds of events in 48 countries for Global Divestment Day to put pressure on organisations to divest from oil, coal and gas industries and reinvest in clean technology.
The Fossil Free campaign says there is an ethical case for divestment, and over the last two years, over 180 universities, faith groups and pension funds worldwide, representing over £30 billion in assets, have committed to divest. The fossil fuel divestment movement is the fastest growing divestment campaign in history with over 500 active divestment campaigns underway at universities, cities, churches, banks, and other institutions.
In 2014, Oxford City Council and Oxford Diocese made history as the first UK institutions of their kinds to make divestment commitments. The initiative is part of the Fossil Free campaign.
Danielle Paffard, UK divestment campaigner at 350.org, said: “The UK divestment movement is already making a huge impact and Oxford is leading the way. In just two years, this campaign has grown from a few universities to hundreds of institutions around the world.