Surrey County Council urged to divest from anti-social investments

Greens have accused Surrey County Council of hypocrisy over its investments in tobacco firms – and urged it to divest from tobacco, fossil fuels and other damaging industries.

A Surrey Mirror investigation has revealed that Surrey County Council owns £15m of shares in five tobacco firms as part of its pension fund portfolio.

Smoking hypocrisy

Surrey County Council’s website says, “In Britain smoking causes more illness and early deaths than anything else. The best way to avoid adding to these statistics is not to start smoking or to quit smoking as soon as you can.” And the Council is currently running a Stop Smoking campaign.

This seems distinctly hypocritical while Surrey is investing in tobacco firms.

Interviewed by the BBC, Green County Councillor Jonathan Essex said, “Surrey County Council should show some leadership and take our money out of an industry that does so much harm, and costs the NHS so much.”

Fossil fuels

Meanwhile, campaign group 350.org has released figures on the billions of pounds of public money that local councils are investing in fossil fuels.

The data reveals that across the country, councils are investing a total of £14 billion in this destructive industry – and that Surrey County Council’s pension fund has £176,765,000 – or 6.29% of its total fund – invested in fossil fuels. Surrey’s top fossil fuel investments are in BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Anglo American, Total and BG Group.

It’s shocking to see the extent to which Surrey is backing fossil fuel companies, at a time when action on climate change is more pressing than ever.

Reigate and Banstead Green Party calls on Surrey County Council to follow the lead of other councils and organisations across the world who have divested from fossil fuels. The money could be immediately reinvested into industries that make a positive contribution to society, such as clean energy technologies.

What shares does Surrey County Council hold?

For a summary of Surrey County Council Pension Fund investments in aerospace and defence, alcohol and tobacco, see this Surrey Mirror article

To see data on Surrey’s investments in fossil fuels, see http://gofossilfree.org/uk/pensions/

What you can do
•    Sign a petition calling on Surrey to divest from fossil fuels: https://campaigns.gofossilfree.org/petitions/divestsurrey
•    Come to a meeting in Dorking on 25 November, to join experts on the impacts of climate change and campaigners on divestment to discuss what we can do locally. It’s at 7.30pm at the Christian Centre, Church St, Dorking RH4 1DW

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  • By Talking #ClimateSense on Thursday, 19 November 2015 at 12:54 am

    […] We are also asking Surrey County Council to take its money out of fossil fuels. This is a step that other councils like Oxford and Bristol have already taken – whilst Surrey still has 6.29% of its pension fund (or £176,765,000) invested in fossil fuel companies. […]

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