Posted: Tue 2nd Nov 2021

Jack Sargeant calls for local authority pension funds in Wales to pull thier millions out of fossil fuel companies

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Nov 2nd, 2021

Alyn and Deeside’s representative in the Welsh Parliament has called for local authority pension funds in Wales to pull out the millions of pounds they have invested in fossil fuel companies.

Over half a billion pounds was being invested in fossil fuels by Wales’ local authority pension funds at the end of 2019-20, research shows.

Clwyd Pension Fund is administered by Flintshire County Council, it provides pension and death benefits to its members and local government employees.

According to data from Friends of the Earth and Platform the fund has £77 million invested in fossil fuel companies, the largest investment is in BP at over £20 million.

Clwyd Pension Fund is the steward of around £2 billion of pension fund assets, the fund says it “seeks to place sustainability at the heart of how it invests.”

And says it is “working to transition more of our investments into companies that are committed to helping reduce global carbon emissions.”

The fund has committed to an overall target of “net zero absolute carbon emissions within our investment portfolio by 2050.”

Clwyd Pension Fund says it will set achievable “whilst ambitious” interim targets for reductions in net carbon emissions for 2025 and 2030.

COP26, which is taking place in Glasgow, is the latest in a series of meetings through which the world’s governments attempt to deal with climate change.

With climate change at the top of the agenda, Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant said: “We will hear a lot over the next few weeks about the need to act in a bold manner to avert climate change disaster.”

How does Clwyd Pension Fund invest in its top 10 fossil fuel holdings? Data from Divest.org

In an article for The Fabian Society in Wales, he said: “That while pension regulations are not devolved, it doesn’t mean “we cannot take a view nor find other ways of getting the huge public sector pension funds to disinvest from fossil fuel investments.”

Jack said that local government pension funds should disinvest in companies drilling for oil and gas.

He said: “There is a growing movement to make this change and we successfully campaigned to disinvest the fund of the Senedd Members’ pension scheme.”

“I support calls to disinvest local government pension schemes and believe the Welsh Government must show strong leadership to encourage and help make this possible.”

“One way of doing this is to include pension fund investments in targets for the public sector to be carbon neutral by 2030.”

“This would be a bold ambition and set the unmistakable tone that we recognise change needs to happen, and fast.”

“It would also send a message to those that create the investment products the funds purchase.”

“This sounds small but is absolutely crucial; these products need to exist if funds are going to disinvest.”

Jack said the campaign to disinvest local government pensions “has already done so much and I pay tribute to organisations like Friends of the Earth Cymru who have led this campaign and individuals like Cllr Ed Stubbs who successfully passed a disinvestment motion at Cardiff Council and to Jenny Rathbone and Mike Hedges MS who did so much on the Senedd scheme.”

“Now however, it is time to step up the progress, and for that to happen we need political leadership that, in my view, must come from the top.” He said.

“Councils of all political stripes have not always been fast enough to grasp the imperative nature of this and that is why I want to place a duty on them to act.”

The Alyn and Deeside MS said that: “Investment managers have also not understood the need for the creation of new investment products, but that will change if we send this clear signal.”

“Time is one thing we do not have a lot of, and I am pleased that we have real focus on the need for change and I welcome the Welsh Government’s announcement on the steps it will take for Wales to become carbon neutral, but this seemingly small additional step could reinvest billions from products that are part of the problem to investments that are part of the solution.”

Jack said he will be speaking to Welsh Government ministers over the next few weeks with this simple call; “pension funds must be part of the 2030 targets.”

“In the meantime, I would like to speak directly to my colleagues in local government — you do not need to wait to 2030 push for you pension fund to disinvest.”

“Other authorities are doing it and funds have already moved away from coal, we now need that to be oil and gas as well.”

”The move from coal demonstrates that where there is a will there is a way, let’s disinvest!” He said.

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