Extinction Rebellion protesters rally against Hackney council fossil fuel investments
- Credit: XR Hackney
Extinction Rebellion (XR) campaigners rallied outside Hackney Town Hall against council investment in fossil fuel companies.
The protest held on April 1 comes as a response to a report published in February by Divest Hackney about council investments in fossil fuels.
This was despite the authority's climate emergency declaration in 2019, which set out measures to deliver net zero emissions across its functions by 2040.
According to the report, Hackney Council has almost £35m invested in coal, oil and gas companies including BP, Shell, BHP and ExxonMobile, through its management of the Hackney Council Pension Fund.
Highlighting the climate and ecological risks of such investments, XR activists called for the council to stop investment in fossil fuel and, for a full divestment of the fund.
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Local XR campaigner, Joe Coroneo-Seaman, said: "You can’t honestly tackle the climate emergency while putting millions into the very same companies wrecking the climate and destroying communities across the globe."
On March 17, the pension fund shared a new timeline to review further decarbonisation of its investments to reflect the council’s 2040 net zero commitment and the UN's target to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial revolution average.
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But the timeline was met with criticism from groups like Divest Hackney, a grassroots resident-led organisation which has pushed for the council to move its pension fund out of fossil fuels since 2015.
Stine Wilhelmsen from Divest Hackney said: “If Hackney wants to be a leading local authority in tackling climate change, it must stop investing in fossil fuels."
But Ian Williams, Hackney's Group Director of Finance and Corporate Resources, says the borough's pension fund has led in taking "strong action" to tackle climate change.
It reduced its exposure to fossil fuel reserves by 31 per cent over three years and is on track to further reduce exposure by at least 50 per cent over the next three.
Mr Williams says the council's 50pc target is "a step towards a fossil fuel free fund in the future" and in line with the Paris Agreement.
He said the fund will continue engaging with companies on climate change as active members of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum: "We will continue to fulfil our fiduciary duty to our scheme members and the taxpayer. It will however take time to fully detach from fossil fuel investments, but we are committed to working toward this.”