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Leader — Council should put its money where its mouth is

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Climate change is proving bad for our health. Even here in Hackney and across other London boroughs we are feeling its effects.

Health experts estimate that around 9,500 people a year die in the capital due to air pollution. Around a tenth of the borough is designated a flood risk zone, with areas around the canals and river networks particularly at risk.

The enormity of combatting climate change can feel overwhelming, but a new Hackney-based campaign is bringing the battle closer to home.

Hackney Council is currently pouring money into companies drilling for fossil fuels. Through its pension fund, it has £42 million invested in companies like ExxonMobil and Shell. Yet it claims it is committed to reducing the borough’s impact on climate change, and cutting its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

The council says it “will not actively disinvest in companies for ethical, social or environmental reasons as this may impact on fund returns.”

But studies have shown that ‘fossil-free’ portfolios outperform their environmentally unfriendly counterparts. If Hackney had divested four years ago, it would arguably be financially better off than it is now and campaigners say the council could realistically divest fully within five years.

Hackney residents have a reputation for leading the way on environmental issues. More residents here cycle to work than in any other
London borough. Numerous groups champion biodiversity, sustainable food and green space initiatives. They deserve a council that shares their green agenda.

That’s why the Hackney Citizen is supporting Divest Hackney, a local group that is calling on the Town Hall to rid itself of its fossil fuel investments. 

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