Green Party NI Councillors have slammed a decision taken by some Councillors in Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Full Council meeting last night (Wednesday 29th September) to vote against divestment in fossil fuels. This is the second time the Council has debated this issue and despite declaring a climate emergency in 2018, the majority of Councillors voted against divestment.
Holywood and Clandeboye Councillor Lauren Kendall said, “I am incredibly disappointed that some Councillors refused to hear the case for divestment so that they could consider balanced evidence. Not only have they failed to stand by their commitment to combat climate breakdown, but were unwilling to consider the financial and legal risks associated with investment of pension funds in fossil fuel companies which will be relied upon by Council staff and Members in their retirement."
Cllr Stephen Dunlop, who previously tried to overturn the decision at the Council's Corporate Committee last week, stated, “Our role in local government is to influence in the most effective means possible, including where our pensions are invested to. Our Corporate Plan even states that “we are committed to a sustainable future, ensuring that the activities and decisions taken forward within this plan advance the economic, social and environmental needs of future generations”. Yet again this is not reflected in the Councils decision this evening.
Green Group Leader Cllr Barry McKee said, "the council has failed to take the opportunity to show a leadership position on climate. If we accept that something needs to be done on climate and that fossil fuel companies' behaviour is increasingly risky to pension holders, then support for divestment is financially prudent and environmentally sound""
“We are in a climate emergency. We need full divestment from the coal, oil and gas industry.”