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Bristol MPs call for pension fund to go fossil free

On the eve of an international summit on climate finance, Darren Jones, Kerry McCarthy, Thangam Debbonaire  and Karin Smith join over 100 MPs to call on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to drop investments in oil, coal and gas companies.

The four Bristol Labour MPs are among a cross-party group of over 100 MPs (1) who demand that their £612 million MPs’ Pension Fund removes its substantial holdings from fossil fuel companies to reflect their concerns about climate change. The fund currently holds a £5.6 million stake in BP and £4.9 million in Shell.

 

This week, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell became the 99th and 100th MPs to sign the Divest Parliament pledge (2). This milestone comes as 50 heads of state, including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, arrive in Paris for an international summit on climate change and finance.

MPs are responding to a rising call for divestment, with over 800 organisations and investors worth over $5 trillion having already committed to divest from fossil fuels (3).

In a joint statement, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, and the other MPs said:

“Two years on from the Paris agreement, and with the devastating impacts of climate change already apparent, there is no room for continued investment in companies whose business is incompatible with our climate obligations. It is vital that MPs show leadership on positive solutions to tackle climate change which benefit society and our constituents. We are therefore proud to support the call for our pension fund to divest from fossil fuels.”

Patrick Killoran  from the Divest Parliament campaign said:

‘ I’m deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change here and around the world. It’s great to see MPs listening to their constituents and showing political leadership on climate action.

Investing in companies such as BP and Shell, who continue to dig for more fossil fuels and lobby against climate policy to line executives’ pockets, is dangerous and wrong.

I hope more MPs will join those committing to Divest Parliament today, and prioritise concrete action to build a clean, fair energy system for all.”

Two years ago this week, the UK government joined nearly 200 nations in signing the Paris Agreement on climate change. To meet the commitment to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C, with the aspirational target of 1.5°C, scientists have warned the vast majority of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.

Yet, the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) continues to invest millions of pounds of MPs’ savings in fossil fuel companies. Both BP and Shell are among the fund’s top 20 holdings – along with mining firm Rio Tinto, British American Tobacco and Amazon -which were made available for the first time in March 2017. The pension fund has to date been unwilling to make public the full list of its investments.

With the value of fossil fuel companies’ stock based on their entire fossil fuel reserves–not just the small percentage that can safely be burned–these investments are not only environmentally destructive, but represent a significant financial risk. Meanwhile, the industry continues to funnel billions every year to find and develop yet more fossil fuel reserves. Both BP and Shell have been involved in lobbying against climate solutions, and BP was identified at the top of a list of firms obstructing climate action in Europe (4).

The 100 pledges follow the efforts of thousands of citizens across the UK, who have written to and met with MPs from the across the political spectrum, urging them to demonstrate their commitment to protecting our society and shared environment from the risks associated with burning and investing in fossil fuels.

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Darren shares views on protection of bees

Following constituent enquiries in relation to the use of neonicotinoids and bees, Darren has shared his thoughts:

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West said:

“The importance of pollinators to our food supply, biodiversity and economy is clear and I share my constituent’s concern about declining bee numbers.

I support the current European-wide ban on the use of neonicotinoids on crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators because I believe that it is a proportionate response to the mounting scientific evidence which demonstrates the risk of neonicotinoids to bees.

The UK Government has said that current environmental regulations – including the ban on neonicotinoids – will remain in place until we leave the EU. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is reviewing the scientific evidence and there are draft proposals for a full EU ban on the three most commonly used neonicotinoids. I support this ban and at the last General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids as soon as our EU relationship allows us to do so.

It is vital that we take a science-led approach to pesticide use and consider how best to support farmers, protect wildlife and reverse the decline of pollinators. I would like to see further research into identifying suitable substitutes to neonicotinoids and support for integrated pest management measures which would benefit the farming community without posing risks to the environment, and human or animal life.

I can assure my constituents that I will be urging the UK Government to show leadership within the EU by following evidence-based policy and pressing for a ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids. The UK Government must set out how it intends to ensure that existing environmental protections are maintained and enhanced once the UK has left the EU.”

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Sims Metal consultation with Avonmouth community

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones is encouraging residents of Avonmouth to contribute to a consultation by Sims Metal Management in relation to plans for changes at their site.

Darren said:

“Sims Metal have advised me they are undertaking a public consultation on their operations prior to submitting planning applications for the site. I would urge residents to share their views by visiting the consultation event on Tuesday 28th November 3 to 8pm at Avonmouth Community Centre or by returning the feedback card local residents have been sent. If you can’t attend the event or have not received a feedback card, you can also email feedback@consultation-online.co.uk or call 0800 298 7040.

You can find out more about the consultation and Sim’s proposals online.

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MP encourages applications to Gigabit Broadband Scheme

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones is encouraging Bristol’s small and medium-sized businesses (as well as local residents) to apply for funding available through a new Government broadband scheme.

Businesses may be able to get a grant of up to £3,000 to upgrade business broadband to a Gigabit-capable connection. This is through a Gigabit Voucher Scheme which will provide vouchers to support the capital costs of getting new gigabit-capable connections for businesses. There are also vouchers worth up to £500 available to connect homes in Bristol.

You can find out more by visiting Connecting Bristol. 

Darren said:

“Slow and patchy broadband is a real problem for many residents and businesses here in Bristol North West – it is holding back some local businesses as so much time is wasted on slow connections. This scheme won’t solve the wide-spread issues the UK has with broadband speeds but it is a step in the right direction and I welcome the DCMS’s investment. I urge businesses and residents interested in getting super-fast gigabit broadband to apply for the funding available to this area”.