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Mole Valley calls on Surrey Pension Fund to move to net-zero

At the July meeting of Mole Valley Council, Claire Malcomson, Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Climate Change, proposed a motion to request the Surrey Pension Fund and its investments reach net zero by 2035; and that suitable interim carbon budgets are set. After much debate Full Council agreed to it unanimously. This makes Mole Valley the first Council in Surrey to do this.

Speaking to the Council, Claire said: 'The latest Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change reports give us frightening scientific details of how the human race is pushing the planet over its natural boundaries. We are nowhere near the trajectory to keep our wonderful planet from reaching temperatures beyond 1.5 degrees higher than pre-industrial levels. Yet the British government currently supports the fossil fuel industry, through tax breaks, subsidies for exploration and research & development to the tune of £13 billion and is now wanting to justify more oil and gas production.

'Globally investments must be made responsibly, not to the detriment of our planet; creating new green jobs and renewable energy is the growth that we need. It is possible and ethical that the UK should move away from fossil fuels and become self-sufficient in renewable energy. The International Energy Agency states that the technologies to achieve the necessary deep cuts in global emissions by 2030 already exist. Plus, the policies that can drive their deployment are already proven. It recommends fossil fuel subsidy phase outs and policies to provide disincentives for the use of fossil fuels.

'There is, however, an argument not to write off the massive fossil fuel industries. They have the finance, know-how and ability to take up the renewable cause, and to rebalance their investment and production, increasing and innovating more carbon capture, whilst offering a smaller amount of fossil fuels for producing plastics, and other side products, we have grown used to.

'Hence, the Liberal Democrats chose the words very carefully for this motion. We know this evolution has to be done mindfully - creating new jobs (estimated to reach 30 million by 2030) without suddenly destroying existing livelihoods.

'Policy changes must be implemented by governments; businesses must become carbon neutral; and each individual must reuse materials and lower their own carbon footprint. Pension Funds are pivotal as they have a massive influence on investment and expenditure.'

So far, The Surrey Pension Fund literature does not make a clear commitment to reaching net zero. That is why this motion is so important. The Lib Dem Administration has now written directly to the Fund requesting the above.