On Monday 1st October, Oxford City Councillors voted overwhelmingly to call upon the Oxfordshire Local Government Pension Scheme to disinvest from companies engaged in fracking. The proposal reaffirmed the Council’s opposition to investment in all fossil fuel companies, and recommended redirecting such investments to renewable energy initiatives. The motion passed with 38 votes for, none against, and two abstentions.
The motion, proposed by Councillor John Tanner and Councillor Richard Howlett, both of Labour, cited investments of £84 million, or 3.85% of the £2 billion County pension scheme, in companies which practice fracking. Fracking refers to hydraulic fracturing, an energy extraction technique in which highly pressurized fluids are injected into deep rock formations, creating cracks into which oil or gas can flow. In the U.K., most fracking efforts target shale gas. The technique’s environmental risks inspired a national moratorium on fracking, (overturned recently), and mass protests at drilling sites.
Local environmental groups gathered outside Town Hall to support the motion and draw attention to recently jailed anti-fracking protesters.