On Tuesday, a motion to divest the West Midlands Pension Funds of fossil fuels was debated by Birmingham City Council: and passed with cross-party support!
Several local councils, including Birmingham City Council (BCC), put their employees pension investments into a large scheme called the West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF). Anyone who works for the council has their pension invested with the scheme; and by extension anyone who pays council tax is funding it. There’s a lot of money involved – so deciding which companies’ shares that money gets invested in can make a big difference. At the moment, unfortunately, that involves investing large sums in fossil fuel companies that are contributing to global climate change. Footsteps supports the efforts of Divest WMPF to get the fund to take its money out of dirty fossil fuels, and invest in green companies instead.
The motion passed by BCC recognises the damaging impact of the fossil fuel industry, and commits the city to review its own investments, ruling out fossil fuel companies. To divest the pension fund, Birmingham will have to negotiate with the other councils involved, and the motion directs the city’s representatives to start that process.
Prior to the debate, Footsteps’ own John and Steve attended the Divest WMPF demonstration outside Birmingham Council House. This involved awareness raising with the public, inviting people to sign a petition to the Council and also message Shell who at the time were doing a big PR event in London. At the event John and Steve promoted Footsteps and Small Footsteps. Below are a some photos from the day: