Divest from fossil fuels – Vancouver City Council

Divest from fossil fuels – Vancouver City Council

The City of Vancouver are having a Council meeting this Wednesday, among other things they will be discussing a new report on how their Municipal Pension Plan is heavily invested in fossil fuels, including Kinder Morgan.

It’s late notice I know… but this is a great opportunity and if anyone can get down there in person or submit a letter, all the info and background on how to do that is below.

Key info:

Vancouver city council will be meeting on Wednesday, October 9 to receive the staff report. The report and link for getting on the speaker’s list is here: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20131009/ptec20131009ag.htm

The meeting starts at 9:30 am, and it is estimated that this item will come up around 10:30 am. Can’t be there in person? Written submissions are accepted by email to: mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca with a cc to andrea.reimer@vancouver.ca

Subject: Pushing for fossil fuel divestment at the City of Vancouver

Hi Climate Justice Project partners and friends,

One of those interesting moments has come up where you can make a difference. The emergence of a student-led fossil fuel divestment movement in the US, since expanded to churches and municipal governments, has been an exciting development over the past year. This conversation has now started on Canadian campuses, and is popping up in churches and union halls.

Earlier this year, the City of Vancouver asked its staff to investigate its investments in relation to the goals of various city ethical policies. That staff report just got released, and will be discussed at Council this coming Wednesday. I’m writing to encourage you to make your voice heard – and challenge Council to walk the talk of being the “greenest city” – by pushing for fossil fuel divestment.

Most of the action is around the City’s pension fund money. The City and its employees contribute about $100 million a year to the Municipal Pension Plan, invested through the BC Investment Management Corp (BC IMC). The staff report has some interesting findings about how that pension fund money is invested:

* Enbridge and Kinder-Morgan? BC IMC has got ’em, even though the vast majority of British Columbians do not want their pipelines.

* Heard about that uncontrolled tar sands spill in Alberta caused by in situ extraction practices? The Municipal Pension Plan owns $115 million of that company, Canadian Natural Resources.

* Then there is Royal Dutch Shell, named this year by California’s Global Exchange as the number corporate criminal in the world. The Plan has $62 million there.

In fact, three of the Municipal Pension Plan’s top ten holdings are oil and gas companies, including Exxon, key funder of the massive climate change denial campaign. Linking the economic security of City of Vancouver’s workers to the success of fossil fuel giants is deeply problematic.

In the report, you will see that the BC IMC is, strangely, hailed for being a leader in responsible investing. That bar must be pretty low because these examples make it clear this is not the case. To the extent BC IMC has been using their ownership stake to “engage in dialogue” with companies about changing their ways, that’s been a failure.

Moreover, the BC IMC is not considering climate risk, the harsh reality re-emphasized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last week, that most fossil fuels need to stay in the ground in order for us to have a habitable planet over the long term. When that climate action comes, hopefully sooner than later, those assets will lose most of their value. Divesting is not just the right thing to do, its the prudent financial move to make.

Vancouver city council will be meeting on Wednesday, October 9 to receive the staff report. At a time when fossil companies are doing everything they can to expand coal exports, lay down bitumen pipelines and build dirty LNG plants, your voice can make a difference. The report and link for getting on the speaker’s list is here: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20131009/ptec20131009ag.htm

The meeting starts at 9:30 am, and it is estimated that this item will come up around 10:30 am. Can’t be there in person? Written submissions are accepted by email to: mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca with a cc to andrea.reimer@vancouver.ca

I’ve added some links for more background info below. I hope you can add your voice to this important conversation, and if you agree with me that this is important please forward to your networks.

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