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Renewed call on Newham to pull cash out of fossil fuel firms after MPs back Parliament pledge

PUBLISHED: 14:00 25 June 2019

MPs Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms. Picture: L.BROWN/S.TIMMS

MPs Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms. Picture: L.BROWN/S.TIMMS

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Green campaigners have renewed their call for the council to drop shares in 'dirty energy' firms after Stephen Timms and Lyn Brown called for Parliament's pension pot to do the same.

Fossil Free Newham campaigners celebrated earlier in the year after Newham Council declared a climate emergency. Picture: JON KINGFossil Free Newham campaigners celebrated earlier in the year after Newham Council declared a climate emergency. Picture: JON KING

The MPs for East Ham and West Ham have signed the Divest Parliament Pledge which calls on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to stop investing in companies including BP and Shell.

The call follows growing concern among constituents about the environmental, social and financial risks posed by climate change.

Mr Timms said: "A net zero emissions target and declaration of a "Climate Emergency" means the space for fossil fuels will diminish rapidly.

"School children and constituents across the UK are demanding a cleaner, healthier world and many universities and faith groups have already begun shifting their investments away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy. "I've joined more than 250 cross-party MPs backing Divest Parliament, calling on Parliament to change its investment policy to reflect the shift which will have to be made over the next few years."

Fossil Free Newham campaigners celebrated earlier in the year after Newham Council declared a climate emergency. Picture: JON KINGFossil Free Newham campaigners celebrated earlier in the year after Newham Council declared a climate emergency. Picture: JON KING

The campaign group Fossil Free Newham (FFN) claimed victory for getting the MPs to back the pledge after raising concerns about the urgent need to act now on climate change.

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An FFN spokeswoman said: "Stephen Timms and Lyn Brown have shown leadership in Newham by pledging to divest from fossil fuels, which leaves us wondering when Newham Council will do the same and stop investing in dirty energy.

"The climate science is unequivocal: the vast majority of fossil fuels must stay in the ground to contain warming below 1.5 degrees.

"We must invest in a world powered by clean energy - this will tackle climate change, create jobs and improve our health."

A Newham Council spokeswoman said: "The Newham pension fund, which is the responsibility of Newham's pension committee, has reduced its overall exposure to fossil fuel from 4.0 per cent at March 31, 2016 to 1.2pc at June 30, 2018, making it one of the best in this area in London.

"The Pensions Committee has ensured the fund is carbon neutral by investing significantly more into renewable energy sources in order to offset what it invests into fossil fuel based energy."

The divest campaign was started in 2014 by a small group of MPs, including the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. Their first success was to pressure the trustees of the MPs Pension Fund to disclose its investments, revealing that the largest individual holding is the oil giant BP.

On average fossil fuel companies dedicate only 1 per cent of their spending to clean energy projects, according to a report by the firm - Carbon Disclosure Project.

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