This evening, Oxford City Council passed a motion proposed by Green Councillor Craig Simmons (and seconded by new Green Councillor and fossil fuel divestment campaigner Ruthi Brandt) to adopt a comprehensive set of ethical investment principles.
Extract from motion:
"The Council will not knowingly invest directly in businesses whose activities and practices pose a risk of serious harm to individuals or groups, or whose activities are inconsistent with the Council’s mission and values. This would include, inter alia, avoiding direct investment in institutions with material links to:
* human rights abuse (e.g. child labour, political oppression)
* environmentally harmful activities (e.g. pollution, destruction of habitat, fossil fuels)
* socially harmful activities (e.g. tobacco, gambling)
Uniquely, the motion includes a specific reference to investment in fossil fuels - making Oxford the first Council in the UK to recognise the damage being done by companies involved in the 'carbon economy'.
Unfortunately, Labour limited the scope of the motion by removing reference to indirect investments (pdf) meaning that the Council's majority investments in third party counterparties (banks and building societies, money market funds, property funds, pension funds and other local authorities) are excluded from scrutiny.
Says Cllr. Simmons; "The Council did not have an ethical investment policy. Now, thanks to the Greens, it does. But we still have work to do convincing Labour that these principles can - and should - be applied to our substantial indirect investments; where the Council can exert much more influence."
The Greens have been working with the Fossil Free Oxfordshire campaign.