Despite over 75% of local councils declaring a climate emergency, billions of pounds are still being invested into fossil fuels through local government pension funds, new analysis conducted by Friends of the Earth and Platform has revealed.
Freedom of information (FOI) requests sent by the environmental groups has revealed that despite decreases in recent years, UK local government pensions held £9.9 billion of investments in fossil fuel companies in the 2019/20 financial year.
The report, which contains the most up-to-date review of local authority pension funds, revealed that Greater Manchester, Strathclyde and West Midlands are responsible for the most investment.
Together, these funds account for 20% of all fossil fuel investments in the UK. The 3 local authority pension funds with the largest percentage of their assets invested in fossil fuel are Teesside, Dyfed and Dorset – all of which invest around 5% of their pension fund total value into fossil fuels.
Rianna Gargiulo, divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: ‘Declaring a climate emergency may garner good headlines but too often it seems to stop there. Councils can’t make a bold claim about saving the planet while continuing to invest in fossil fuels. Local authorities have the power and duty to ensure local workers not only have a pension for their retirement, but also a future worth retiring into.
‘Instead of stubbornly sticking with old systems of investment that worsen climate breakdown, councils should invest in renewable energy and social housing. These are the areas that benefit communities and households and are a better investment in every sense.’
Robert Noyes, campaigner & researcher at Platform and report author, added: ‘After a decade of austerity and the devastating economic impact of Covid across the UK, local councils can and should be using their pension funds to support local investment priorities.
‘Instead of making risky bets on fossil fuels, let’s channel the wealth in our pensions to local communities and build a better world beyond the pandemic. Whatever your stake in your pension – imagine what world you want to retire into – and push your pension to invest in it.’
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