1. We are now well on the way to meeting our 1,000 signature target for the Divest Brent petition. Although the online petition (see link at the bottom of this email) gives a figure of only 794 signatures we still have to upload nearly 90 more signatures from our recent stall at Queens Park Farmers Market – and still have planned in the next 2 months another stall at the Farmers Market and we will be sharing a stall with Brent Friends of the Earth at Queens Park Day in September. The combination of those 2 events should see us comfortably over the 1,000 mark.
2. We reported last month a climate emergency petition on the Council’s democracy website and in fact a climate and ecological emergency was declared by the Council on 8 July – see https://www.brent.gov.uk/
council-news/july-2019/ climate-emergency-declared-by- brent/, which also includes a link to the detailed text of the declaration. The Council is going to strive for carbon neutrality by 2030 and the resolution specifically referenced the 2018 manifesto commitment on divestment which should help our campaign.
3. In the meantime Divest Brent has been keeping a low profile for two reasons. Firstly the Council has, under government guidance, been moving its pension fund investments to a pool of London Borough pension investments called the London Collective Investment Vehicle (LCIV or CIV) – but LCIV currently has no fossil-free funds. With the Council planning to have 90% of its funds in the CIV by the end of this year, there is little point in pressing them to divest their investments when there is nothing suitable to re-invest into. We have therefore been focusing on persuading the CIV to start offering fossil-free funds. The good news is that the CIV has appointed a Chief Investment Officer (CIO), Mark Thompson, who will be taking up his post in September – and who has a good reputation on ethical and fossil-free investment at his present role as CIO at HSBC. One of his early tasks will be to appoint a Responsible Investment Officer who should be in a position to organise ethical and fossil-free funds under the CIO’s supervision. We have been working with our colleagues in other London divestment campaigns and a number of them have contacted the CIV direct or asked their Councils to emphasise to the CIV the importance of making available these new funds. Lambeth Council in particular recently committed to divest but stated at the time that they could not start the process until the appropriate fossil-free funds in the CIV were in place.
4. The second reason for holding back is that the Council has undertaken to publish in October its strategy for divestment; past experience suggests that an approach at this stage would simply be met by an assurance that the matter was being dealt with. Once the policy document is in place we can assess where best to focus our energies.
5. Meanwhile, July has seen plenty of news from back in the wider world:
· Bad news for BP, which so far has refused to take any significant steps to refocus its business strategy in line with the climate emergency:
o Mark Rylance resigned from the Royal Shakespeare Company to protest against its sponsorship by BP
o a trustee of the British Museum, Ahdaf Soueif, resigned to protest BP sponsorship of the Museum, with considerable support from its staff. While the Museum’s Director has defended the ties to BP, Ms Soueif has claimed that a tipping point is approaching for BP’s sponsorship of the Arts
o Greenpeace occupied a BP oil rig, en route to a new well site, for 12 days
· Bad news for the rest of us – last month the UK committed £2 billion to fossil fuel projects abroad while government support for renewables fell to only £700k (yes, £700,000 not £700 million!).
· Good news:
o after keeping up the momentum of youth strikes for the climate, with well attended strike days in February, March and this month, the students are now calling on adults to join in on September 20 – if you can, put the date in your diary – and indeed the 20th kicks off a week of action – see https://350.org/support-
climate-strikes/ for more information.
o German renewable energy is at last overtaking fossil fuels for power generation – see https://www.reuters.com/
article/us-germany-power- renewables/renewables- overtake-coal-as-germanys- main-energy-source- idUSKCN1OX0U2 - this is particularly good news as they burn a particularly carbon-intensive form of coal and for some time there have been concerns that they were going to miss their targets for quitting coal; instead coal usage is dropping faster than expected.
o In the meantime more than half of UK electricity last year was generated from low-carbon sources (renewables and nuclear).
o The National Trust has agreed to divest their substantial investment portfolio.
o European Investment Bank has pledged not to provide any more finance for fossil fuel projects.
6. Finally, Greenpeace were determined that Boris Johnson should be reminded of the climate emergency – even on his way to Buckingham Palace for his formal appointment of Prime Minister by the Queen.