Climate group call on pension fund to divest from oil and gas
Camapigners gathered outside county council offices calling for urgent funding to help tackle climate change.
Fossil Free Oxfordshire marked national divestment Day on Friday by calling on Oxfordshire Local Government Pension Fund to accelerate and broaden the changes it is making in its investments away from oil and gas.
They could be seen outside County Hall in Oxford on Friday (March 24) to call on the county’s pension fund committee to act more rapidly in divesting from climate-damaging investments.
They were joined by Oxford Friends of the Earth and Extinction Rebellion (XR) members to leaflet council employees and sing.
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Fossil Free Oxfordshire member Andrew Finney said: “This week United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said that we all have the tools we need to solve climate change challenges.
"We just have to deploy them, everything, everywhere, all at once.
“Organisations like the Oxfordshire Local Government Pension Fund, and the larger Brunel Partnership that it’s part of, have the financial levers that can make those changes actually happen.”
In November 2019, the Oxfordshire Pension Fund Committee held a workshop about climate change and investment and heard from experts in climate-friendly investment, representatives from the Brunel Pension Partnership and from climate-concerned NGOs such as Carbon Tracker.
Pension scheme member Pete Wallis said: “After the climate change workshop held in 2019, the councillors on the Pension Fund Committee do seem to have listened to lobbying by Fossil Free Oxfordshire.
"And also from scheme members like me, who don’t want our pensions to be supporting climate-destroying industries.
“But investment changes so far have not been ambitious enough and the fund still has huge investments in companies like Shell that are having devastating effects on the climate.”
Since 2019, the Oxfordshire Pension Fund has set a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its investment portfolio by seven per cent each year.
They have moved most of the scheme’s passive equity investments to funds that are aligned with criteria set by the Paris Agreement.
The spiralling cost of living and climate breakdown are both symptoms of an unstable and unjust energy system, founded on fossil fuels.
It’s time local authorities stopped investing workers’ pensions in the culprits responsible. #DivestNow
📽️ @cameraZoe pic.twitter.com/b0eY6plhjV
— XRUK_Actions (@XRUK_Actions) March 25, 2023
The Pension Fund Committee has recently decided to investigate moving its UK Equities investment to a UK Paris Aligned fund, which would trigger the divestment of most of its holding in Shell plc.
“Oxfordshire councils have declared a climate emergency and now their actions must be stepped up”, said Mr Finney.
“If we are to keep temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, we need rapid, immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
“Major investors such as pension funds have a massive role in making this happen.
"We call on the Oxfordshire Pension Fund to step up changes in its investment policy – everything, everywhere, all at once.”