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Khan pressed to divest council pension funds from fossil fuel industries

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been urged by the London Assembly to divest all remaining council pension fund investments away from fossil-fuelled industries to show that London is “serious” about tackling climate change.

Khan pledged to “take all possible steps” to do this in his election manifesto, and the London Assembly has agreed on a motion asking him to reaffirm this commitment.

The motion calls on the mayor to issue a statement calling on the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) to commit to full divestment and set out a concrete plan for its swift delivery, including a timeline and deadline for divestment.

Leonie Cooper AM, who proposed the motion, said: “The mayor was elected on a manifesto commitment to take all possible steps to divest the LPFA of its remaining investments in fossil-fuel industries.

“We have seen the mayor take bold steps in his first eight months in office, including tackling toxic air and combatting cold homes. It’s now time to be equally bold in climate change and make sure that London government does its bit towards a smooth transition to a sustainable future.”

In its motion, the Assembly notes that a “rapid transition” away from fossil fuel extraction and the companies that perform it is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, which seeks to keep global warming below two degrees. It also noted that a “significant number” of other global cities have already committed to divestment, such as Paris, Sydney, Washington DC and Copenhagen.

The divestment of the LPFA has cross-party backing, with four of the party candidates in this year’s London mayoral election supporting divestment, amounting to almost 90% of the popular vote. A motion supporting the divestment previously passed in the London Assembly in May of last year.  

“This Assembly therefore calls on the mayor of London to reaffirm his commitment to divesting the LPFA by: a) issuing a statement calling on the London Pension Fund Authority to commit to full divestment.

“And b) immediately setting out a concrete plan for the swift implementation of his manifesto promise, including a precise timeline and deadline for divestment and what steps the Mayor’s Office will take to achieve this, in conjunction with the LPFA Board,” the motion read.

The London Borough of Waltham Forest Pension fund successfully passed a policy to fully divest from fossil fuels in September of this year, making it the first UK local government pension fund to do so.

The Assembly’s motion was eventually agreed by 14 votes for to 4 votes against.

(Image c. AP Photo, Lefteris Pitarakis)

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