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Campaigners celebrate as Islington council pledges fossil free pensions

Fossil Free Islington celebrate as Islington council pledges to reduce carbon footprint

14 September, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Members of Fossil Free Islington with the Green Party’s Cllr Caroline Russell 

 

CAMPAIGNERS donned party hats and waved a giant inflatable of the earth to celebrate the successes of their three year campaign to stop the Town Hall from investing their pension fund in fossil fuels.

Members of Fossil Free Islington partied on the Town Hall’s steps on Wednesday night ahead of a meeting where councillors pledged to reduce the pension fund’s carbon footprint.

The council’s pension fund has 21,556 members and 6,669 pensioners receiving an income through its £1.3bn of investments. Only a small fraction of its investments are currently linked to fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil but Councillor Dave Poyser, Chairman of Islington Council’s Pension Fund, promised to lower that figure through a three-pronged approach.

He said in a statement: “First, we will continue to explore opportunities to reduce the fund’s carbon footprint, considering in particular moving our internally managed UK passive equities to a lower-carbon global tracker instead.

“Second, we will actively consider investing in renewable energy and green infrastructure. Third, we will continue to engage through the London Collective Investment Vehicle, the Institutional Investors Group for Climate Change and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum with the companies in which we invest to urge them to reduce their reliance on carbon.”

He added: “I have asked colleagues to pull together all our options for reducing the fund’s carbon footprint and for continuing to divest from fossil fuels in a detailed plan for us to discuss in public in December.”

He stressed he had a “fiduciary duty” to pensioners to ensure the best investments and the world was currently moving away from a carbon-based economy.

Jen Cronin, 27, and Hannah Staab, 30, helped spearhead the Fossil Free Islington campaign and attended countless pension committee meetings to lobby their cause.

Ms Cronin, from Stroud Green Road who is an environmental researcher at UCL, said of the Town Hall’s decision: “It’s wonderful. It’s a really nice example of local people and council staff working together towards a really positive common goal. It’s a proactive step against climate change which is the defining challenge of our time. It shows a message to wider society and national government and industry.”

Cllr Caroline Russell, the borough’s sole Green councillor, joined campaigners on the Town Hall steps and praised their efforts.

She said: “They’ve been totally persistent and determined. They’ve calmly made the case which is completely irrefutable that public funding has no place in fossil fuel investments.”

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