Young Labour supports fossil fuel disinvestment

Young Labour are calling for action on the climate crisis after a motion was passed at the National Youth Policy Conference 2017 over the weekend of October 14-15 reports Joe Walsh. It will be forwarded to the National Policy Forum for consideration. The move comes after an open call for submissions from young members and was supported by comrades in Socialist Resistance.

The motion refers to the fact that most known reserves of fossil fuels must not be used if the planet is avoid the worst climate change scenario.  Keep the Coal in the Hole and the Oil in the Soil. It highlights the economic injustice of climate change; the private sector profits from destroying the planet while it is the public sector which pays for the social and environmental costs and there is a very real risk of financial loss to public investments with the pending Carbon Bubble.

When our public institutions invest in fossil fuel companies, this not only provides them with financial capital but also gives them a veneer of respectability and acceptability, allowing them a social license to operate their business.

This motion highlights the billions of pounds of public money held in fossil fuel companies, sourced from the taxpayer over many years, built up through worker’s pension pots accumulated from careers in local government and held also in the retirement funds of British MPs. It further highlights how our universities support the degenerate industry through billions of pounds of investment and research funding.

This motion supports Jeremy Corbyn and the manifesto’s call for publically owned sustainable energy. It celebrates the recent work of grassroots local and student activists who have achieved success over disinvestment after dynamic campaigns. It reflects on the recent policy changes in the trade union movement and that some Labour councils have begun to divest from fossil fuels.

The motion is a step towards advancing ecosocialism, as it goes further than current official Labour policy by calling on the party’s members and elected representatives to support divesting from fossil fuels and to work with the TUC for a Just Transition. It calls for Labour to express practical solidarity with communities resisting expansion projects everywhere and calls for a specific boycott of Barclays Bank; one of the worst offenders in the capitalist climate crisis.

The motion in full, below:

Young Labour notes:

The overwhelming majority of known fossil fuel reserves must not be extracted and burnt to avoid the irreversible effects of catastrophic climate change.

While the profits of climate change are privatized, there is significant risk of financial loss in the public sector if investments in fossil fuels become stranded assets and the social and financial costs of the climate crisis continue to be socialised.

The manifesto ‘For the Many Not the Few’ already calls for greater investment to decarbonize the economy and for publicly owned sustainable energy production.

UK councils’ Local Government Pension Scheme have £14bn invested in fossil fuel investments and MPs have millions invested in the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund.

UK universities support the fossil fuel industry directly through their £5.2bn investments in fossil fuel companies, but over one third have now made divestment commitments following student-led campaigns.

Labour councils Waltham Forest and Southwark were the first in the country to divest their pension funds from fossil fuels following local campaigns.

The TUC recently adopted policy to investigate the long-terms risks of fossil fuel investments, and promote divestment and reinvestment in the sustainable economy.

Unison recently adopted policy to campaign with other trade unions to divest Local Government Pension Scheme from fossil fuel investments over the next five years.

Young Labour believes:

Young Labour and the Labour Party should follow the lead of young people who will suffer the worst effects of climate change, along with the working class/global poor, women, and migrants displaced from the global south, as they lead calls for public funds to be used to solve the climate crisis rather than worsen it.

The Labour Party should support fossil fuel divestment campaigns, and encourage all publicly funded institutions to divest and positively reinvest in renewables for a just transition.

The Labour Party should support divestment of local government and parliamentary funds in the interests of pension scheme members, taxpayers and those affected by climate change.

Banks should not drive climate co2lonialism by financing fossil fuel extraction globally. Young Labour and the Labour Party should commit to using ethical banks that do not finance fossil fuel companies, including explicitly boycotting Barclays, who have the highest levels of fossil fuel finance of all UK high street banks, and have been the subject of national campaigning and demands for them to divest.

The Labour Party should work with trade unions and climate justice campaigns to implement divest-reinvest policy as part of the Just Transition industrial strategy to rapidly decarbonise the (global) economy and ensure job security and compensation for workers in affected industries.

A Labour government should found a national green investment bank to fund mass investment in renewable technology innovation and infrastructure.

The Labour Party should express practical solidarity with front line communities resisting new fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure projects in the UK and globally – fracking, coal mining, tar sands, oil pipelines, etc. by supporting their struggles and exerting whatever leverage available to stop their construction or decommission existing projects.


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