Buckinghamshire County Council invests £107m of its pension fund, just over four percent, into fossil fuel companies.
According to new data released on November 9, the county council proportion of investment is the 34th lowest in the country and dramatically less than the 6.7% invested in 2015.
Climate change campaigners hope the findings, which demonstrate a national investment of £16.1 billion worth of pension savings in oil and gas firms, will spur councils into divesting from companies with poor environmental records.
The Greater Manchester pension fund invests the most in fossil fuel companies, contributing 10% of its total spend to big names like BP and Shell.
The UK government mandated local governments to combine their pension investments into 8 pools from 2015. Buckinghamshire’s pool, Brunel, invests £1.3 billion out of its £26.9 billion into fossil fuels. Several local authorities have already committed to divest their pensions.
John Chilver, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “The Buckinghamshire Pension Fund Committee manages the Buckinghamshire Local Government Pension Scheme on behalf of over 218 employers across the county, including the Buckinghamshire County Council, Milton Keynes Council and the District Councils.
“Legal opinion obtained by the national Shadow Scheme Advisory Board states that the first duty of all Pension Fund Committees is to the membership of the scheme and that they cannot place ethical and other social, environmental and governance factors above the requirement to maximise the investment returns for a given level of risk.
“In its published Investment Strategy Statement, the Committee recognises that environmental, social and corporate governance issues, including climate change can have a materially significant investment implications, and as a responsible investor the Committee therefore considers such issues in all investment decisions.
“The Committee believe that engaging with their investee companies on all issues to deliver long term change delivers a more responsible investment approach than a blanket decision to divest from any group of companies.
“The Buckinghamshire Pension Fund Committee is working alongside the other Pension Funds within the Brunel Pension Partnership to further develop their approach on these issues and to improve the reporting in this area, including demonstrating the impact of our engagement with the fossil fuel companies.
See the research, collated by 350.org, in collaboration with Platform, the Energy Democracy Project, and Friends of the Earth, at www.gofossilfree.org/uk/fuellingthefire