Campaigners call on council pension schemes to divest from fossil fuels

Local authority pension schemes have come under the spotlight, as new data claims they have invested a total £14 billion in fossil fuels. 

Details of the £231 billion investments of all 418 local council have been published by 350.org, Platform, Community Reinvest and Friends of the Earth.

According to the groups, councils have invested £218 per resident into risky fossil fuels. 

The largest investments have been made by Manchester (£1.3 billion), Strathclyde (£750m) and West Yorkshire (£670m).

And 6% of local government pensions are invested in fossil fuels. 

The campaigners have called on local authority pension schemes to invest more in renewables and join Oxford and Bristol city councils, which have already made fossil free commitments.

“Instead of wasting £14 billion of public pensions on multinational climate wreckers, we could reinvest into renewables and housing that serve local residents, create jobs and safeguard pensions,” said Mika Minio from Platform.

“Public investments in fossil fuels are fuelling dangerous climate change, and present a threat to the pensions of 4.6 million public sector workers. There’s a strong ethical and financial case for local councils to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest into infrastructure fit for the 21st century,” said Danni Paffard of 350.org

The Green Party London Mayoral candidate Sian Berry said she would also push for council pension funds to invest in renewable energy instead.

And Green Party members on the London Assembly will also target the London Pension Funds Authority (LPFA) to divest.  

"Pensions are all about the future and fossil fuels are an incredibly short-sighted investment all public pensions should avoid,” said Ms Berry. 

“Investing in new green industries would help get London’s economy ready for the long term, creating jobs that benefit local communities and greater resilience at a time when our city is increasingly vulnerable to the changing climate. 

“Divestment would move public sector pension investments away from industries and fuels of yesterday, and help end our long standing dependence on fossil fuels. It would help to boost London’s contribution to tackling climate change too, where we have the potential to lead the world,” she added.

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues