Revealed: What do Wales’ Local Authorities invest their pensions in?

Astonishing new data reveals that Welsh local authority pensions have almost three quarters of a billion pounds invested in fossil fuel companies, such as Shell and BP.

 

Before today it was not known the extent to which the funds, held by Wales’ 8 Local Government Pension Schemes on behalf of council workers and related organisations, were exposed to the “carbon bubble”.

 

The research, carried out by Friends of the Earth Cymru, volunteers and partners shows that:

*  The total amount invested by local authority pension schemes in Wales is £738 million

* This represents an average of £241.00 per Welsh resident, invested in coal, oil and gas by local government.

* Money is invested into multinational fossil fuel companies including BHP Billiton, BP and Shell.

* Gwent Pension Fund came top in Wales’ with a staggering £161 million invested in fossil fuels.

 

The news comes at a time when fossil fuel investments have been falling in value, posing both financial and environmental risks to funds.

Campaigners are calling for funds to invest in line with scientific evidence that shows that 80% of fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change.  

Ever increasing international action on climate change will leave fossil fuel investments worthless, creating a carbon bubble which would be deeply damaging to any funds exposed to them.

Pensions can be invested sustainably and some local authorities such as Oxford have already taken the decision to take their investments out of fossil fuel companies.

 

Comments

Friends of the Earth Cymru spokesperson, Bleddyn Lake, said:

"Local Government pension schemes are supposed to provide security for workers when they retire. At the moment, our local authorities are investing in fossil fuel companies at exactly the time when they need to be taking their money out of these companies.  

"Oil, gas and coal are running out, and the fossil fuel industry is no longer a sustainable, sensible investment choice.

“Local Government should be showing some real leadership on the issue of climate change as well as  protecting the pensions of everyone invested in their schemes by steering well clear of risky investments such as those in fossil fuel companies.  

"There is an alternative to the business as usual model, Lancashire County Council for example has invested £12 million of the county’s pension funds in a solar co-op thereby guaranteeing investor returns as well as supporting local jobs and communities.”

 

 

Notes to Editors

1. The fossil fuel divestment campaign is a growing international movement calling on institutions to divest (sell their shares) from fossil fuels to take action against catastrophic climate change.  According to an Oxford University report it is now ‘the fastest growing divestment movement the world has ever seen’.

2. The new data, unearthed with the help of volunteers, has been revealed as part of a UK-wide campaign to encourage local government pensions funds to quit fossil fuels and invest sustainably.  Data can be accessed at http://gofossilfree.org/uk/pensions/

3. The data was sourced by Friends of the Earth Cymru, 350.org, Community Reinvest, Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Friends of the Earth (England Wales and Northern Ireland), working together as “Fossil Free UK”.  Information was compiled primarily from data obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. The full data is being released at http://gofossilfree.org/uk/pensions/ This includes spreadsheets for each pension fund with a breakdown of investments.

4. A divestment commitment is a principled commitment to wind down exposure to the Carbon Underground top 200 fossil fuel companies over a 5 year period.

5. The Local Government Pension Scheme is one of the largest public sector pension schemes, with 4.6 million members across the UK.

6. An accompanying infographic and set of free-to-use photos is available on request from ffion.matthews@foe.co.uk

 

ENDS

 

CONTACT

Friends of the Earth Cymru: 02920 229 577

MEDIA INTERVIEWS CAN BE CONDUCTED IN WELSH OR ENGLISH

www.foecymru.co.uk
Twitter: www.twitter.com/foecymrucydd
Facebook: www.facebook.com/foecymrucydd

 

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