What is divestment?

Divestment is the opposite of investment. It means getting rid of stocks, bonds or investments that are unethical.

Fossil fuel companies are the wealthiest and most powerful companies on the planet, and they’re using their money, power and influence to block every serious attempt to stop climate change.

By convincing our institutions to divest and publicly break their ties, we can weaken the political influence of the fossil fuel industry. Every time an institution publicly breaks its ties with fossil fuel companies, we chip away at their power to carry out their immoral business plans.

East Riding Council Pension Fund invests £millions in the fossil fuel industry

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East Riding of Yorkshire Council is the “administering authority” for the pension funds of East Riding of Yorkshire, Hull City, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire Councils as well as some other regional institutions. This means the Pension Fund Committee (PFC) at East Riding Council are the equivalent of Trustees and so are responsible for how these funds are invested. The PFC employs fund managers (a group called “Borders to Coast“) to run the day-to-day operations of the fund. However, ultimately the decision on what to invest in lies with the PFC, not the fund managers who are employed to do as they have been instructed by the PFC members.

Why divest?

To prevent an environmental catastrophe

The agenda of the fossil fuel industry is just not compatible with the survival of our planet and the health and safety of the people who live on it. Unless coal, oil and gas production currently in operation is retired early, emissions from existing projects will push global temperature rise past safe limits. That means we cannot open any new fossil fuel projects, and we have to phase out existing ones.

Divestment makes financial sense

Fossil fuel stocks are on a long-term downward trajectory, and COVID-19 has only sped this process up. Renewables stock prices are growing year on year.

Fossil fuel divestment is a practical, legal and responsible way for pension funds to respond to the climate crisis and address the financial risk caused by continuing to invest in stranded assets.

Divestment works

Globally, the divestment movement is having a significant impact on the clout of the fossil fuel industry.  More than 1,300 institutions have made a divestment commitment, which equates to a value of around $14.5 trillion in divested assets.  Royal Dutch Shell has listed divestment campaigns as a material risk in its 2019 annual report.

What can I do in East Yorkshire?

We are asking East Riding of Yorkshire Council to:

request its fund managers withdraw investments from any “energy” company still actively involved in the exploration for, or production and processing of, fossil fuels.

Please act now!

  • Contact your ward councillor (Find your ward councillors)
  • Ask them to use their influence on the council (even more so if they are one of the pension committee members) to stop investing in fossil fuels by divesting the pension fund
  • Use our sample letter for guidance. Councillors receive hundreds of emails so please try to personalise your communication for greater impact.
  • If you are a stakeholder (i.e. are receiving or will receive a pension from the fund) please contact the chair of the Pensions Committee and ask when they are going to make your pension financially secure by removing investment in fossil fuels. You may wish to personalise our sample letter for stakeholders.
Sample ERYC Divest Letter
Sample ERYC Divest Letter for stakeholders

Further Information

You can find all the latest information on local government pension investments in the fossil fuel industry here: divest.org.uk/councils.

Who we are – UK Divest