CAMPAIGNERS who are calling for pension funds to ditch their investment in fossil fuel have put their case to Leeds City Council.

Fossil Free West Yorkshire is calling on the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to sever its ties with the fossil fuel industry. The issue has been passed on to Leeds City Council’s Director of Resources and Housing for further consideration after a delegation addressed a council meeting.

Campaigners say Leeds council has made positive progress on climate change through the Leeds Climate Commission, but they say this is being undermined by its investment in the fossil fuel industry through the West Yorkshire Pension Fund. They say the Fund invests £933,890,000 in fossil fuel assets.

They argue that climate change, driven predominately by fossil fuels, is already causing thousands of deaths per year around the world, and that in Leeds alone air pollution is attributed to almost 700 premature deaths per year.

Simon Campbell Skelling who led the delegation said: “Climate change, and the resulting negative impacts that it is having on the world, is the single greatest threat facing humanity. Action is urgent. Burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, is the main cause of climate change. Analysis of fossil fuel company Shell’s business model indicates they are taking the world to between 3 and 5 degrees’ warming, which is clearly incompatible with the UK government’s commitments under the Paris agreement to limit global temperatures to well below 2C.’’

‘‘We are proud that two of our Leeds MPs Richard Burgon and Alex Sobel, are calling for their own pension fund to divest. Urgent action is needed to protect us from climate change – and the vast majority of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground to keep us safe’’

‘‘This is an opportunity for our council to show leadership both on tackling climate change and to protect members of the pension fund. 1250 local petitioners are demanding that the fund upholds its ‘fiduciary duty’ and takes the financial risks of climate change seriously by ditching its fossil fuel investments. This is in order to protect pensions from what Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England has said is the risk of ‘stranded assets’ in the form of ‘unburnable’ coal, oil and gas’”

Campaigners say 852 institutions have committed to fossil fuel divestment worldwide. A growing number of UK councils have passed divestment motions and several local government pension schemes have committed to divest of fossil fuels.