Campaigners say London mayor has fudged a similar manifesto promise to divest the city’s remaining pension funds from fossil fuels
Jonathan WattsMon 15 Jan 2018 16.41 GMT
London has been put to shame by New York’s decision to divest city pension funds from fossil fuel companies, according to climate campaigners who accuse the mayor, Sadiq Khan, of fudging a similar promise he made during his election campaign.
Global efforts to drive investment away from oil, gas and coal were given a major boost last week when the biggest city in the US announced plans to sell off its $5bn holdings in fossil fuel assets and sue the world’s most powerful oil companies over their contribution to dangerous global warming.
As the home of Wall Street, this had enormous symbolic value and added to the momentum provided last year by divestment proposals from the Norwegian central bank (which runs the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund), and the World Bank’s promise to end funding for oil and gas extraction.
The mayor of London – the world’s other great financial centre – has also pledged action. In his manifesto, Khan said he would “take all possible steps to divest the London Pension Fund Authority (LFPA) of its remaining investments in fossil-fuel industries by 2020.”
City Hall has quietly sold off about half of its fossil fuel assets, but divestment campaigners complain that London’s policies are muted, ambiguous and full of loopholes that could be copied by other institutions.
“While progress is being made in the UK, the New York announcement puts some of the commitments, especially London’s to shame and shows what’s possible with good leadership,” said Danielle Paffard of 350.org, the NGO that has spearheaded the global divestment campaign. “Khan has chosen an approach which essentially lets fossil fuel companies off the hook – both with weak exclusion criteria and by refusing to celebrate and make a political statement with it – while appearing to have ticked off one of this environmental manifesto promises.”