The solution is divestment. Divestment is the opposite of investment and involves getting rid of stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical and investing elsewhere instead. Historically, divestment campaigns have achieved incredible success. Divestment from South Africa in protest of apartheid is one particuarly famous example.
The Fossil Free campaign is a fast growing divestment movement that is beginning to sweep the globe. Launched in 2012 by climate movement 350.org, the campaign has since seen over 220 instutions divest from fossil fuels. Success began with San Francisco and Seattle’s divestment from fossil fuels in 2013 and has since included divestment and divestment commitments from Stanford University, the World Council of Churches, the Rockafeller Brothers Fund, Australien National University, Syracuse University and Victoria Univeristy. In the UK this has included Quakers in Britain, Oxford City Council, Glasgow University, the British Medical Association, the Guardian Media Group, Soas, Univeristy of London, the Church of England and Oxford University.
The aim of the DivestWMPF campaign is to call on the West Midlands Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuel industries. By pressuring the Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuel companies, we are able to send a clear message that these industries no longer have the social liscense they require to operate. The current state of the WMPF means that pension holders across the West Midlands have money tied up in climate change whether they like it or not.
We are asking the WMPF to immediately freeze new investments in fossil fuels by 31st March 2017 and commit to divesting existing direct and co-mingled investments in fossil fuels within the next five years by 31st March 2017.
Key to the Fossil Free movement is reinvestment. There are profitable alternatives to the fossil fuel industry that we know exist and there is evidence that fossil free portfolios can out-perform conventional fossil fuel-dependent investments. So not only are we asking the WMPF to divest, we are calling on them to reinvest in renewable technology, energy efficiency and other sustainable energy technologies.