LABOUR grassroots campaigners and trade unionists from across West Yorkshire have joined climate campaigners from Fossil Free West Yorkshire at the West Yorkshire Pension Fund AGM in Bradford today.
The protesters were calling for the fund to stop investing in coal, oil and gas companies.
The protest was organised by Leeds Trades Union Council, Leeds and Bradford Momentum, and supported by Labour councillors from Leeds, Calderdale, Bradford and Kirklees.
Many of those attending the protest were pension holders with the WYPF.
Eleven West Yorkshire MPs have also joined the call for the pension fund to divest, including Bradford’s Naz Shah and Imran Hussain.
Andrew Scopes, a Leeds City Councillor, said: “The WYPF has to protect its funds from the potential financial crash caused by the impending ‘carbon bubble’ which financial analysts say will occur when fossil fuel demand peaks.”
“Looking at the performance of financial markets, non-fossil fuel funds can be seen to be performing at least as well as fossil fuel funds, which suggests that moving money from fossil fuels now will not adversely affect performance of the pension fund.”
Sue Coatman from Leeds Momentum, one of the protest organisers, said: “We are calling on WYPF to divest from fossil fuels. The West Yorkshire Pension Fund is heavily invested in fossil fuel companies, with three of its top five investments in oil and gas companies.
“Fossil fuel companies are driving us towards climate breakdown. They use their money, power and influence to block every serious attempt to prevent a climate catastrophe. And our money helps them to do this. The WYPF must divest and publicly break their ties, for all our sakes.”
Richard Murgatroyd, a Kirklees Councillor, said: “A number of drivers, including legislation and technological developments, mean that fossil fuel demand could peak in the early 2020s. The Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has been warning us about the threat of stranded assets in fossil fuels, because the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves will be ‘unburnable’.”