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Tennyson expresses disappointment after fossil fuel divestment vote

Alliance Party Councillor Eóin Tennyson has expressed his disappointment after the DUP and UUP groups on Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council teamed up to defeat his motion calling for the Local Government pension scheme to be divested from fossil fuel companies.

This comes after the DUP, UUP and SDLP voted to defer an Alliance motion calling for a Climate Emergency declaration in July.

Speaking after the vote, Eóin said: “The Climate Emergency is a real and ever-present danger which requires action at a national, regional and local level. 

“That’s why I tabled this motion and hoped to see ABC Council join our colleagues in Newry, Mourne and Down and Fermanagh and Omagh councils in calling on the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) to divest the Local Government pension scheme from fossil fuels.

“Since 1998, just 100 fossil fuel companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and they continue to search for even more fossil fuel reserves. This is despite the fact that if we are to meet the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement and keep warming below 2°C, we must start radically reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

“Divestment is an effective strategy in that it encourages companies to move their business models towards less harmful ventures. Moreover, it is a more sensible financial management strategy in the long-term given the inherent risks facing the fossil fuel industry.

“There has been scientific consensus on climate change for 20 years but what has been missing is political will to effect change. 

“Yet last night, bizarrely, we heard the DUP argue that there was no Climate Emergency. This blindness to climate change ignores the fact that in May the government in Westminster approved a motion to declare an environment and climate emergency. 

“It’s perhaps unsurprising that the DUP rejected this motion as that appears to their strategy - to say ‘no’ to everything and wind up on the wrong side of history on just about every issue.

“I am, however, incredibly disappointed that the Ulster Unionist Party aided them in defeating this proposal.

“The climate and ecological crisis is of great concern to citizens in our borough and they are demanding action. It is a shame that the DUP and UUP refuse to heed their concerns. 

“Alliance will continue to speak up for them and call for serious, meaningful action to protect our environment.”