On June 15, the Council of the City of Stockholm decided to withdraw the city’s money from companies that invest in fossil fuels. With this, Stockholm joined other capitals like Oslo and Berlin who also cut their financial ties to the fossil fuel industry.
Katarina Luhr, the Vice Mayor of Environment in the city of Stockholm from our national member party Miljöpartiet de Gröna has worked on this for years, and was one of the key drivers of the successful divestment pledge in Sweden’s capital. We talked with her about how that was achieved and what other cities might be able to learn from it:
Congratulations! With Stockholm yet another European capital divests its assets from fossil fuels.
Thank you! I have long pushed for divesting and I am very glad now that the City of Stockholm has decided to avoid placing money in companies that are active in the fossil energy sector.
How did you achieve this?
Well, when we as Greens took power in the City of Stockholm in 2014 we set the ambitious goal to be fossil free by 2040. Stockholm’s own organisations are supposed to be fossil free already by 2030. In order to succeed with this goal, we have to work in all areas. To avoid investing in companies that make their money with fossil fuel is an important part of that.
But you are not governing with absolute majority. Which opponents did you have, who were your partners in the end?
The majority in the Council of Stockholm consists of four political parties of which we are the second largest. And we try to have a very good collaboration in which everyone gets some of their political ideas through. I am convinced that it’s not possible to have a lasting majority otherwise. It might take longer sometimes, but last year we already agreed to include in the budget for 2016 that we want to investigate if and how divestment in Stockholm could work. Since the budget has a very big impact on how the city is run, this has already been a big step forward.
And how about partners from the civil society?
They played an important role. Several environmental organisations have driven the issue of divestment. It has been very helpful to work together with these organisations to show that this is an important issue. In my opinion, the Green Party should have the goal to have their ears to the ground – because if you do, it can really help to move political issues forward quicker and more successful.
So, what was decided concretely in the end, how are the details of your commitment?
Stockholm already had an investment policy that excluded investments in companies that earn a significant portion of their money from the production of tobacco, alcohol, pornography or weapons. What we did now, is to include climate harm into this wording, meaning that the city will avoid placing money in companies active in fossil energy.
Did it already start?
Yes! The City of Stockholm has sold the city’s index funds containing companies that operate in the fossil fuel sector. The funds that we have sold were kept in a pension and donation fund for the city.
Thank you for the conversation!