Victoria George, the Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Brentford and Isleworth, used the “Quiz the Cabinet” session at Hounslow House on Tuesday 24 September 2019 to ask for Hounslow Council’s pension fund to sell its shares in fossil fuel companies.
Victoria said “Now that Hounslow Council has declared a climate emergency, it is completely wrong that its own pension fund has investments in companies drilling for new coal, gas and oil – making climate change worse as well as, increasingly, putting contributor’s pensions at risk as the future of these investments becomes risky with the move to renewable energy. Hounslow must divest, not invest in fossil fuel.”
“At Quiz the Cabinet on Tuesday, I was pleased to hear Councillor Rajawat, cabinet member responsible for finance, affirm that the council would be looking at the pension fund. We appreciate that these things take time and that ultimately it will be up to members of the fund to determine their investments. I think though it would be a fair criticism to say that our council, like so many others, has some catching up to do and we look forward to seeing progress.”
“It’s worth noting too, that scrutiny of the pension fund should also include a serious review of investments in tobacco and the arms trade, unethical by anyone’s standards.”
“We have been told in the past that it was not the council’s role to intervene in the work of the pension fund. This view is not borne out by campaigning organisations such as Friends of the Earth who say that ‘Local Government pension funds have split financial responsibility – to the fund beneficiaries, employers, and to local residents. Pension funds are made up of local people’s contributions – so whether or not they are invested in planet-wrecking fossil-fuel industries is an issue for everyone.’”
The Green Party notes that from 2016, a growing number of local authorities have taken positive action to ‘divest’ or sell shares in fossil fuels completely. ‘For example, Waltham Forest and Oxford City Councils both passed resolutions to divest over a 5 year period.’
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See also: Green Party Hounslow manifesto