CROYDON COMMENTARY: Friends of the Earth member NICOLA BRENNAN suggests a way in which the council can help save the world and save our lives
Last year broke records for being the hottest since records began. Our use of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) is pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which will trap even more heat. As the atmosphere hots up, it will make storms ever stronger, floods more common and increase the number of extreme weather events.
We are lucky here in Croydon that we don’t yet suffer the most extreme aspects of climate change, but we are seeing changes and the floods, droughts and storms suffered in other parts of the world are already starting to impact our food supplies.
We live in a city that is suffering more and more due to air pollution. Across London it is estimated that air pollution leads to 10,000 early deaths every year.
We know that air pollution levels in central Croydon have already reached dangerous levels and they are likely to get worse, especially when the Beddington incinerator starts throwing out pollution.
We don’t expect Croydon Council to be able to solve them all on its own. However, we do think it is reasonable to expect the Council to be trying to help and not make the problems even worse.
One of the key ways that local councils, and employers and finance companies, make the problem worse is by making investments in fossil fuel companies. These investments, usually through pension funds, support fossil fuel companies to continue polluting our atmosphere and also support them in trying to extract even more fossil fuels. In order to have a chance of avoiding serious harm from climate change we know that 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves must not be burnt, never mind trying to extract even more.
According to research by Fossil Free UK, in 2014 Croydon Council had around £40million invested in fossil fuel companies. We believe that this money could be much better invested in delivering clean renewable energy instead of helping to pollute our planet and putting us all at risk.
The moral and environmental case for divesting from fossil fuels is clear. However this also makes sound economic sense. Governments are already starting to restrict the use of fossil fuels and removing the subsidies they have always received. Renewable energy is growing at a phenomenal rate and is getting cheaper every day. Evidence is showing that the clever financial institutions are already starting to move their investments away from fossil fuels and into renewables.
Croydon Council wouldn’t be the first council to divest from fossil fuels. Councils in Southwark, Hastings and Cambridge have already committed to divest along with lots of universities, churches and charities, businesses and other organisations, such as the British Medical Association.
We believe that in the face of the threats to our health and our future it is right for the council to now make a commitment to end all investment in fossil fuels.
Divestment from fossil fuels would make a powerful statement that the fossil fuel industry is morally and economically unviable, and that the people of Croydon wish to support a sustainable energy future.
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