Ruddington Councillors Lead Action on Climate Change

A motion proposed and seconded by Ruddington Councillors that Rushcliffe Borough Council should reduce its use of, and future investment in, fossil fuels was passed unanimously at its meeting last night.

Labour Borough Councillor Jennifer Walker, who was elected to represent Ruddington earlier this year, told they had been approached as a party, by residents and action groups in Rushcliffe, asking them to deliver a motion for the divestment of fossil fuels. “We finished on the final draft after much negotiating with the other members of different political persuasions in the week leading up to the motion being put to Council” she explains.

Ruddington Councillor Jennifer Walker proposed the motion

In her speech Cllr Walker spoke about how fossil fuels will become increasingly financially risky: “International efforts to reduce carbon emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change means the majority of known fossil fuel reserves cannot be exploited and must be left ‘in the ground’. The market value of fossil fuel companies is based largely on the notion that all known reserves can be exploited. Understanding that they cannot be is growing quickly and the point fast approaching where most reserves will be rendered valueless- becoming ’stranded assets’. At this point there will be a large reduction in the share prices of fossil fuel companies.”

During a thought-provoking moment, she asked members to cast their minds ahead to her daughter’s 75th birthday and imagine what they think the world would look like: “If they were like me, the world in their heads was not a pleasant one. Shrinking glaciers, bleached coral reefs, mass extinction, drought, unpredictable weather, etc… I asked them to offer another vision, one that other councils could follow.”

Fellow Ruddington Labour Councillor, Mike Gaunt, seconded the motion – focusing on the risks to the Council of not divesting from fossil fuels. He talked about the unsustainable future for traditional fossil fuels and how investments in these would become increasingly risky in the future. He spoke about recent research by the University of Nottingham and the British Geological Survey which suggests reserves in shale gas in the UK may be substantially lower than previously expected. He then pointed out to the meeting that the FTSE suggests that portfolios that exclude fossil fuels compete as well as, if not better, than those that include them. Cllr Gaunt concluded that to continue to invest in unsustainable fossil fuels was extremely risky to the Borough.

By unanimously approving this motion, Rushcliffe Borough Council has agreed to:

  1. Conduct an immediate audit of all its investments to ascertain the current level of fossil fuel equity investments.
  2. Conduct an immediate audit of the carbon footprint of its operational assets through its Carbon Reduction Work Programme.
  3. Rushcliffe will immediately incorporate in its Environmental Plans the reduction of the use, and future investment in, fossil fuels wherever possible.

Speaking after the decision, Cllr Walker said: “I’m heartened that people who often don’t see eye to eye are able to come together to make decisions and initiate progress towards the mitigation of climate breakdown. It showed that it is possible to find common ground, which will be required on a global scale, if we are to deal with the issues of the future. RBC will stop investing in fossil fuels immediately and the audit will be brought to our scrutiny groups that meet almost monthly. I would ask people to continue to put pressure on their elected representatives and keep asking them about their Carbon Reduction policies and plans.”

Cllr Walker, along with Cllr Gaunt and West Bridgford Cllr Benjamin Gray (pictured centre, left and right in the top photograph), went to celebrate their achievement last night with some Steins of beer at Ruddington’s The Bottle Top – which is currently running a German beer festival at its High Street premises.

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