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£141m investment in fossil fuels criticised

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MASS data released this week by Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth (Oct 30) reveals that Pembrokeshire Council (as part of the Dyfed Council Pension Fund) has £64.8million of public money directly invested through workers pension funds in fossil fuel companies like BP and Shell with a further projected £76.5million in indirect fossil fuel investments.

The research shows that Pembrokeshire County Council has over 8% of its pension fund directly invested in fossil fuels, and money is invested into multinational fossil fuel companies including BP, Shell and BHP Billiton

Eleanor Clegg of Friends of the Earth said: “Many people working for Pembrokeshire Council will be concerned to learn that their future is tied up with such a risky and polluting industry. When governments do act to prevent dangerous climate change, the business model for fossil fuel companies will be over, and that day is fast approaching. And, if oil and gas companies keep on drilling in their final days, it will make climate change far worse – it is the right decision both financially and ethically for Pembrokeshire County Council to divest as soon as possible.”

This is the first time that the £231 billion investments of local government public money have ever been broken down and released publicly, and their exposure to fossil fuels quantified. The data shows that overall the 192 councils in the UK have £14 billion invested in fossil fuels via their pension funds. Three quarters of these direct fossil fuel shareholdings are in only ten companies, headed by BP and Shell.

80% of fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. Consequently, there has been growing concerns about the long-term financial risks of fossil fuel investments. A recent analysis found that California’s public pension funds, CalPERS & CalSTRS, incurred a combined loss of over $5 billion in the last year alone from their holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies.

Friends of the Earth said in a statement: “This data offers the residents of Pembrokeshire the information they need to ask why the Council is choosing to invest in risky oil, gas or coal. Instead the Council could reinvest this money into building new homes, clean renewable energy or public transport.”

Eleanor Clegg also told The Herald: “Most fund members and taxpayers won’t be happy to learn that their money is funding climate change. As local residents we’ll be calling on the council to stand on the right side of history and divest from fossil fuels.”

She added: “Oxford and Bristol City Councils have already taken a lead in making fossil free commitments, joining 40 cities internationally and larger institutions like the Norwegian Government Pension Fund. There are 389 institutions globally – including universities, faith groups, health groups and governments – that have committed to divest. Local residents who would like to join the local campaign to convince Pembrokeshire Council to divest from fossil fuels should get in touch.”

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council said in response: “Many commentators from the public and media get confused with the fact that it is the Dyfed Pension Fund and not Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire or Ceredigion individually. All investments are on behalf of the Dyfed Pension Fund – not any individual employer. There are approximately 50 employers in the fund.”

The spokesman added: “The Dyfed Pension Fund Statement of Investment Principles (SIP) details the Fund’s ‘Social, Environmental and Ethical Considerations’. Paragraph 5 states: The Pension Panel recognises that social, environmental and ethical considerations are among the factors which investment managers will take into account, where relevant, when selecting investments for purchase, retention or sale. The managers have produced statements setting out their policies. The managers have been delegated by the Panel to act accordingly.

“The Pension Fund is a member of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), which is one of the leading voices in corporate governance and responsible investment in the UK.

“Before making investments in fossil fuel companies the investment managers assess a wide range of factors, including, the political stability of the region where its reserves lie, the financial regimes it operates in, the life and quality of its reserves, its operational record, quality of the management, its financial strength, sensitivity to volatile energy prices and its market valuation.

 

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Lecture considers the future of war

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INTERNATIONALLY renowned war scholar and military conflict expert, Professor Christopher Coker delivered this year’s Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture on Thursday (Nov 16).

Christopher Coker, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is a prolific author on all aspects of war. He is a former NATO Fellow, a former twice serving member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, and a regular lecturer at Defence Colleges in the UK, US, Rome, Singapore, and Tokyo.

In his lecture entitled ‘Still ‘The Human Thing’? Thucydides, Waltz & the Future of War”, Professor Coker discussed war as a feature of what we call ‘human nature’ or ‘humanity’ in general, while focusing on urgent contemporary issues such as possible changes in the nature of war by the blurring of the distinction between humans and machines.

He also considered how, as Artificial Intelligence becomes ever more a fact of life, the traditional functions and forms of war could change, discussing such questions as: will we still need war and will war still need us?

Talking ahead of the the event, Professor Ken Booth of Aberystwyth University said: “Chris Coker is a very imaginative, interesting, and controversial thinker. Intellectually ambitious, he always addresses the biggest questions. The titles of some of his most recent books attest to this: Future War, Can War be Eliminated?, Warrior Geeks: how 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way We Fight and Think about War, The Improbable War: China, the US, and the Logic of Great Power Conflict and Men at War: what Fiction tells us about Conflict. We can be sure of a fascinating and challenging lecture about a supremely important area of human behaviour.”

The Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture brings distinguished scholars to Aberystwyth to talk about issues that were central to the concerns of the late Ken Waltz, the leading theorist of international relations over many decades.
Hosted by the David Davies Memorial Institute and the Department of International Politics, this year’s lecture was held in the Main Hall in the International Politics Building on the Penglais Campus.

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Youth Service invited to international training event

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TWO Youth Workers from Ceredigion Youth Service have been selected to represent the UK on a week’s training opportunity in Horažd’ovice in the Czech Republic.

‘The danger of a Single Story’ is a training course funded by Erasmus+, that combines stories, media, global education and active citizenship to empower trainers, educators and youth workers with the tools to educate young people on issues such as cyberbullying, hate speech, and online harassment.

Elen James, Head of Youth Engagement and Continuing Education​,​ said​:​ “We are extremely proud of both Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton, 270 people had applied, for 24 places, 2 were allocated for the UK and both places have been assigned to Ceredigion Youth Service staff.

“This is an excellent training opportunity for them, which will inform them and encourage them to reflect on the evolution of media and the consequences that it has on the formation of stereotypes and prejudices. We wish them all the best in Prague!​”​

Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton will join 22 other Youth Workers from Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. The week will be hosted at the PROUD Environmental Centre approximately 120km from Prague, from ​Sunday (Nov 19) for a week.

Rebeca Davies, School Based Youth Worker said​:​ “I’m really looking forward to visiting Prague, and meeting other Youth Workers from across the World. It will be a fantastic opportunity to learn new tools and techniques to encourage and empower young people back here in Ceredigion.”

Guto Crompton, School Based Youth Worker ​added​:​ “I’m looking forward to learning more about different Youth Work methods and approaches. I’m also eager to develop a greater awareness around education, active citizenship and democracy.”

Cabinet member for Learning Services, Children and Young People’s Partnership, Councillor Catrin Miles, ​commented: “As a Council, we are very proud of the hard work of our Youth Service to the young people of the county. This will be a very important and worthwhile opportunity for Rebeca and Guto to represent Ceredigion and Wales and we wish them all the best at the event.”

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Pot Noodles bought with theft proceeds

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ON WEDNESDAY (Nov 15), Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court heard that a 23-year-old man stole an HDMI cable from a store and sold it for a tenner to buy ten Pot Noodles.

Joel Alexander Owens, of Portland Street in Aberystwyth, pleaded guilty to stealing alcohol to the value of £24.96 belonging to his hometown’s B&M Bargains on June 29. He also admitted stealing an HDMI cable to the value of £14 belonging to Tesco in Aberystwyth on September 24.

Prosecuting, Helen Tench said a staff member at B&M was notified by a member of the public about a male who left the store without paying for items.

CCTV footage was checked, which showed Owens select a number of alcoholic items and leaving the store without making any payments.

Police officers later viewed the footage and identified the defendant.

On October 14, a member of staff at Tesco was informed of the incident at B&M. The Tesco CCTV footage was viewed as a result and the defendant was seen removing an HDMI cable from its box on September 24 and leaving without paying.

Ms Tench said Owens was interviewed on October 19, where he admitted committing the offences in his personal statement.

The defendant also admitted he sold the HDMI cable for £10 in order to buy ten Pot Noodles.

Defending, Katy Hanson said Owens pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and admitted to stealing beer and cider from B&M.

Probation officer Julian Davies stated that the defendant was currently serving a 12-month community order for two previous offences of theft and a breach of a conditional discharge.

Aberystwyth magistrates revoked Owens community order and imposed a 12-month community order with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a four-week curfew.

Owens was told to pay prosecution costs of £85, compensation of £14 to Tesco and compensation of £24.96 to B&M Bargains.

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