Local government pension funds' true exposure to fossil fuels has been unveiled for the first time by environmental lobby groups.
The data published today shows 418 local councils have invested a total of £14bn of their pension funds into fossil fuels. This figure accounts for 6.1% of their total £231bn investments managed to provide pensions to 4.6 million public sector workers.
It is believed to be the first time that councils' pension investments have been analysed in this way. The tool was launched by 350.org, Platform, Community Reinvest and Friends of the Earth and is part of a wider campaign to push councils to divest from fossil fuels.
The data ranks councils according to their exposure to fossil fuels and highlights the associated financial and climate risks. It also shows what proportion of investments are held directly and indirectly, and highlights the potential benefits of councils reinvesting in positive solutions.
350.org UK divestment campaigner Danni Paffard pointed out the financial risks from funds investing in fossil fuels: "Public investments in fossil fuels are fuelling dangerous climate change, and present a threat to the pensions of 4.6 million public sector workers. There's a strong ethical and financial case for local councils to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest into infrastructure fit for the 21st century."
Local pension scheme member Jane Ivimey who is also part of the Fossil Free Oxfordshire campaign said: "We don't want fossil fuels to destroy our pensions, and we don't want our pensions to destroy everyone's future."
Pressure has been mounting again on UK schemes to take action after legislation was passed in June to divest California's two public pension funds from certain coal companies. This followed analysis showing the California State Teachers' Retirement System and California Public Employees Retirement System combined loss of over $5bn (£3.3bn) in the last year alone from holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel firms.
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