If you live in the East Midlands and work in health then please consider signing this letter calling on the Councils to stop investing in fossil fuels.
The Councils of the East Midlands have over £180 million of their pension funds invested in the fossil fuel industry. This is directly funding the climate crisis and doing huge damage to human health.
TO: Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council, Lincoln City Council, Lincolnshire County Council, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council
We, the undersigned, write to you as doctors, nurses and other members of the East Midlands healthcare community. It is with grave concern that we note that our County Councils are investing millions of pounds of their pension funds in the fossil fuel industry.
The fossil fuel industry poses a serious threat to human health. Fossil fuel driven climate change already negatively impacts the health of millions1 and threatens to reverse the last half century of gains in global health2. Expert analysis, published in the 2018 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change3, warned that ‘a lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity threatens both human lives and the viability of the national health systems they depend on, with the potential to disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm local and national health services.’
The fossil fuel industry undermined climate science for many years. It has approximately 5 times more carbon in its proven fossil fuel reserves4 than can be used if global warming is to be limited to 2⁰C. Warming beyond these 2⁰C , indeed warming beyond even 1.5 ⁰C, will have devastating impacts5 on human health and human civilization. Despite this, the fossil fuel industry continues to explore for even more fossil fuels. Its business models are incompatible with maintaining a healthy planet that can support healthy, safe and stable human societies.
Fossil fuels are also a major contributor to air pollution, which kills 7 million people every year according to the World Health Organization6. This is similar to the number of deaths caused by tobacco each year7.
As clinicians, we have a duty of care to current and future generations to limit these dangers. It is for this reason, we are writing to ask you to divest from fossil fuel companies.
There are immediate benefits to health from moving to a low carbon economy; a renewable powered world will not only combat climate change but will also improve the air that our communities breathe. Motivated by these concerns, healthcare organisations are ending their investments in fossil fuels. In the UK, recent fossil fuel divestment announcements have been made by the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, the Royal College of Physicians, the Faculty of Public Health, and the British Psychological Society8. Beyond the health sphere, investors and pension funds from all sectors of society are divesting from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel divestment commitments have been made by UK local government pension funds, UK faith organisations, trusts, charities and over 70 UK universities, including the Universities of Nottingham, Loughborough, Lincoln and Nottingham Trent University locally8. Outside the UK, notable divestment commitments have been made by New York City’s $189bn pension funds, the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the World Council of Churches, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. To date, organisations managing over £14 trillion of funds8 have committed to divesting from the fossil fuel industry.
Our County Council pension fund’s fossil fuel investments are becoming increasingly risky from an investment perspective. Fossil fuel divestment is not only morally responsible but also financially prudent. Fossil fuel assets are now believed to be overvalued, creating a dangerous “carbon bubble”. Mark Carney, as Governor of the Bank of England, warned that unsavvy investors could face “potentially huge” losses as a carbon budget consistent with a 2°C target would render the vast majority of reserves ‘stranded’ – oil, gas and coal that will be “literally unburnable”9. The value of oil company shares owned by UK local government pension funds has already fallen by £2 billion10 in less than four years, with losses in Nottinghamshire council pension funds alone already estimated at £81 million.
We therefore ask our County Councils to:
- Immediately freeze new investment in fossil fuel companies, including those made by externally managed and pooled funds.
- Divest all investments in fossil fuels as soon as possible and by 31 December 2021 at the very latest.