Pressure grows on KCC to divest

November 12, 2017

If you care about climate change and believe in the urgent need to reduce our reliance on carbon then please join us to increase the pressure on Kent County Council (KCC) and the Kent Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels.

Shepway Green Party is wholly supportive of Fossil Free UK’s current campaign to name and shame councils across the country. Details here:

Its research reveals that UK councils invest £16 billion in climate wrecking fossil fuel companies. The Kent Pension Fund has total investments of almost £4.5 billion, of which £267.5 million (5.95%) is invested in fossil fuels. The Kent Pension Fund is for workers in local government, police and fire services, education and public health across the county. KCC is the administering authority.

The Green Party in Kent has long campaigned for divestment. Our county councillor, Martin Whybrow, has lobbied and attended the pension fund committee and has been vocal in local media (he is on BBC Radio Kent’s breakfast show this coming Tuesday at 7.45am discussing the topic).

Shepway Green Party believes fossil fuel investments are unacceptable for three main reasons:

First, they are directly contrary to the UK’s climate change goals as embodied in the Paris Climate Agreement as well as to KCC’s own strategic commitment, within its Kent Environment Strategy. The same is true of KCC’s investments in tobacco and its public health remit.

Second, KCC’s arguments that it has no option but to run the fund on the basis of ‘fiduciary responsibility’ – in other words, to make as much money as possible – no longer hold water. The UK government’s own Environment Agency is committed to divesting, so too ever more councils, cities, educational establishments and others.

The third reason, linked to the second, is that fossil fuel investments are no longer sensible from a pure investment perspective anyway. Ever more investors, including entire country sovereign wealth funds around the world, are divesting from these companies with their dying business models based on a finite resource that all countries around the world have committed to move away from.

Martin Whybrow comments: “We are likely to hear the same old arguments from KCC, along the lines of – this is how we’ve always done things and our pension fund has performed well so we are not changing. This ‘can’t do’ attitude is part of the culture at KCC, it is a tired local authority devoid of ideas and unwilling to lead on any front. Its investment policy is a perfect example.”

Shepway Green Party, alongside other campaigners, will seek to ramp up the pressure on KCC over the coming months.

If you would like to be involved, please contact us via this website or call Martin on 07727 185385.