17 February 2016
Regional Green Parties from across Somerset have collected more than 700 signatures in a petition against Somerset County Council's pension fund investments. The £1.47bn fund invests more than £121m in fossil fuel related companies and funds. These represent 8.3% of the total fund, the 10th highest proportion in the UK. This petition follows a number of successful campaigns in other council areas around the UK including Bristol, Oxford, South Yorkshire, Norfolk, Nowich and others.
In addition to the well documented environmental issues, financial experts, including the Bank of England, Goldman Sachs, Standard and Poor's and AXA, have all warned of the economic risk that climate change policies pose to fossil fuel companies. These warnings were echoed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in their September 2015 Finance Initiative report “Fiduciary Duty in the 21st Century” which concluded:
“Failing to consider long-term investment value drivers, which include environmental, social and governance issues, in investment practice is a failure of fiduciary duty.”
As climate change continues to increase the frequency of extreme weather conditions, Somerset is only too familiar of the costs to the local economy. During the winter floods of 2013/14, flooding throughout Somerset is expected to have cost the local economy £147m. A report by the Somerset Rivers Authority went on to say that “half of all Somerset businesses were badly affected by the floods.” and that “the impact on residential property was up to £20 million.”
The 700 strong petition was delivered to Somerset Count Council on Friday 5 February by Mendip District Councillor Shane Collins, a member of East Mendip Green Party.
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