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Council moves to put freeze on fossil fuels

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A motion to rule out future investment by Dudley Council in fossil fuel companies has been approved by borough councillors.

The move, voted on at a full council meeting tonight (Mon), is designed to tackle the onset of climate change. The local authority currently has no investments in fossil fuel firms.

The motion also calls on the West Midlands Pension Fund – which currently has nearly half a billion pounds invested in the oil, coal and gas industries - to explore possible alternative investments in the clean energy industry.

The motion was put forward by Councillor Pete Lowe, shadow cabinet member for finance, council sustainability and transformation.

It was passed by a unanimous vote in the chamber at Dudley Council House after an amendment put forward by Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for procurement, transformation and commercialisation.

The amendment calls on the leader of the council, Councillor Patrick Harley to consult with the other leaders of the six West Midlands local authorities. It is with a view to jointly asking pension bosses to formally consult fund members on a move away from investing in fossil fuels.

It also calls for a shadow portfolio to be set up to see how alternative, more environmentally-friendly investments over a period of time would affect the fund.

If it generates positive results, formal consultation should then follow with fund members to freeze new investment in the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies.

Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for procurement, transformation and commercialisation, said:

I’m really pleased that members of the council were able to get behind the amended motion, which is both financially responsible and demonstrates the council’s commitment to action on climate change.
I hope that the pension fund will now take action by exploring the feasibility of alternative investments that will not detrimentally affect the fund financially.
Once that information has been collated, members of the fund should be consulted to see if this is what they want to do.
The West Midlands could be a world leader in carbon neutral technology. My amendment to the motion ensures that we will focus our investment to not only benefit the local environment, but also the regional economy.

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