26 February 2020
Green Councillor Simon Grover won unanimous backing for his motion at St Albans Council yesterday (Wednesday 26 February) calling on the Hertfordshire Pension Fund to stop investing in dirty fossil fuels like oil and gas.
The Herts fund, which holds investments to pay for local council workers’ pensions, was branded in a 2018 report as being in the worst category of local government funds in terms of protection against the financial risks posed by climate change. In his speech, Councillor Grover said “there is no sign of action beyond statements about engagement, no talk about the danger of stranded assets, and no sign of a plan to decarbonise the fund. This motion urges them to do more.”
Cllr Grover pointed out that many other institutions were ‘divesting’ from fossil fuels, which were financially dangerous when most of the known reserves could never be used if we are to meet climate change targets. “The government, the Bank of England, JP Morgan, BlackRock - everyone is warning about the danger of these investments both to the planet and to our pockets,” said Cllr Grover after the debate. “So I’m delighted that the Council has unanimously backed the call for Hertfordshire to act on this.”
The Herts fund currently holds around £90 million directly in oil and gas companies. “Getting rid of fossil fuel investments is an extremely effective way for pension schemes - and anyone with pension savings - to lower their carbon footprint. In fact it’s many times more effective than a lifetime of cutting back on meat, water use, cars and planes,” said Cllr Grover. "So, divesting its pension fund from fossil fuels is a big opportunity for our county council to back local efforts to bring down our emissions."
St Albans Council will now ask Hertfordshire to:
- add a statement to its published strategy that climate change constitutes a financial risk to the fund
- develop and implement a strategy to eliminate the fund’s exposure to fossil fuel companies over the next 5 years
- focus its shareholder engagement activity on sectors where meaningful progress in reducing climate risk is possible
- set goals for reinvesting in the local low carbon economy
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