Getting burned

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AM – ‘why can’t they stop doing it?’

Senior Welsh politicians who condemned councils in Wales for putting money into fossil fuel companies have revealed to The Eye the decision by Cardiff University to halt, has thrown the spotlight back on local authorities.

One Welsh Assembly Member (AM) told us:  “This makes the councils look even worse after we passed that law (The Well-being of Future Generations Act {Wales} 2015).
‘Dramatic news’ at Cardiff University

If the university (Cardiff) is stopping doing it, why can’t they?”.

The dramatic news comes after it was disclosed that Cardiff University will stop investing in fossil fuel firms by 2021, following angry protests, and a week-long hunger strike was staged by two second year undergraduates, Frieda Lourken and Lucienne Billy, who said:  “They met our demands so yes, we are eating again”.

But Welsh councils have also hit the headlines for their investment policy.

Welsh councils invested over a billion

It has emergerged that they are investing over £1 billion of their workers’ pensions in fossil fuel firms.

The revelation came as the world’s nations met for the 23rd annual ‘Conference Of the Parties’ (COP) in Bonn under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which aimed to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”, ie halt global warming.

 

Who cares about the environment?

The report which revealed the information, Fuelling the Fire, was produced by Friends of the Earth, 350.org, Platform and the Energy Democracy Project.

It showed that:
• Welsh councils invested £1,027,843,384 of their pension funds in fossil fuel companies out of a total of £15,382,932,477.
• Torfaen and Dyfed local authority pension funds were among the funds with the highest percentage investment in fossil fuels.

Bleddyn Lake – ‘appalled’

Bleddyn Lake, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Cymru, said at the time: “It’s appalling that Welsh local authority pension funds are investing in climate-wrecking fossil fuels.

“This appears to fly in the face of their legal responsibility to consider the well-being of people and their environment in their decision-making”.

But Welsh councils are not alone.

The new data also reveals that across the UK, councils have invested a total of £16.1 billion of workers’ pensions in fossil fuels out of a total of £287.9 billion.

Money to burn

Compared to 2015 data, investments in fossil fuels have gone up in real terms (from £14 billion) and did not change significantly in proportion to the size of the pension funds.

In London a huge row blew up over the amount of money the council was investing in fossil fuel companies.

City Hall stepped up efforts to end its controversial deal with fossil fuel firms, but it still invested almost £70million in companies that drive up carbon emissions.

A politician attacking Welsh councils

Two years ago the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, pledged to strip back his authority’s investment in the fossil fuel industry, which until earlier last spring amounted to more than £200m.

Perhaps councils in Wales will also strip back their investments after hearing senior politicians say Cardiff University has taken the lead.

Tomorrow The Eye conduct an exclusive interview with the man changing the centre of Cardiff. 

 

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The Eye is edited by Phil Parry. Phil is a former BBC news and current affairs reporter. He is winner of the BT Wales award for journalist of the year, BT Wales TV reporter of the year and radio reporter of the year. His programmes have won in the current affairs category of the Royal Television Society and BAFTA Cymru. Phil has presented Panorama programmes, Newsnight films and BBC 2’s Public Eye. For 10 years he was the face of BBC Wales TV current affairs programme Week in, Week Out. He was a reporter on the evening TV news programme ‘Wales Today‘ and has presented numerous daily radio programmes. Phil has also worked on local and UK newspapers. If you have a story you wish us to investigate then get in touch. We treat your disclosures in total confidence and with the journalistic integrity you would expect from our professional team.

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