Council commits to divesting from fossil fuels

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On Wednesday 2 November, Sheffield City Council passed a motion committing to divest from fossil fuels. With this, Sheffield becomes the ninth UK council to pass divestment policy, and the largest authority yet to do so. The motion, passed at full council, stated that ‘the council does not and will not invest in fossil fuels.’ The motion was initiated by the Green Party then revised and amended by the Labour Party. It confirms and extends the Council’s previous position.

Here in the Divestment Team at SCA we are over the moon that our Council has taken the bold step to divest. Sheffield is now the first city in the world to have commitments from both the council and its universities. This decision is a clear indication of Sheffield’s commitment to be a climate leader and of its support for the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees.

We look forward to further conversation about how this motion translates into other actions, in particular the need to divest all public funds from the fossil fuel industry. We are already asking for support from Sheffield Council representatives on the South Yorkshire Pension Authority (SYPA) to add targets to SYPA’s Climate Change policy [2], without which divestment from this £5.5bn fund is unlikely to happen.

Ellen Gibson, UK Divestment Organiser for 350.org commented:

“We know that to stop catastrophic climate change we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition quickly towards a clean renewable economy. The fossil fuel industry has spent decades spreading lies about the climate to protect their profits at the expense of people and planet, but now the tide is turning against them.

“With this decision, Sheffield joins hundreds of public institutions – including cities such as Berlin, Copenhagen and Sydney – who have broken their ties with this morally bankrupt sector. This growing movement sends a strong signal to world leaders – we need to strong action on climate change and we need it now.”

The movement for fossil fuel divestment is a global campaign calling on public institutions to rid themselves of fossil fuel investments for ethical and financial reasons. Globally, over 600 institutions worth $3.4 trillion dollars have made divestment commitments.

The challenge is now on to other institutions and employers in the city, including the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority, to take action.