Local government in the UK invests over £14 billion through 4.6 million public sector pensions into fossil fuel companies. These holdings by city, borough and county councils are accelerating dangerous climate change, present long term financial risks for savers and taxpayers, and don’t benefit local communities.
This data project is the first attempt to quantify the exposure of our local government pension funds to the fossil fuel industry. It is an invitation to question transparency, democracy and decision-making in public finance. To consider the risks and responsibilities of investing people’s pensions in an industry 80% of whose reserves cannot be burned on a liveable planet. It is an invitation to explore the possibilities of this money if it was instead reinvested to support jobs and infrastructure benefitting local people.
This data is a call to action for local governments around the country to take a lead on climate and divest from fossil fuels. Although many local governments are already committed to action on climate change, their investments in the fossil fuel industry undermine these efforts. Our local governments have used divestment to take a stand before – playing a key role in the successful campaign against South African Apartheid. Already over 50 local governments around the world have committed to divest from fossil fuels, its time our councils joined them.
This tool is a call for citizens to take a stand, get active in their communities and join the divestment movement. Already there are groups all over the country working to divest their local governments from fossil fuels. In the run up to climate talks in Paris this winter, it’s more important than ever that we take use our local power to call for meaningful action on the climate crisis.
The project from Fossil Free UK has been run by a number of organisations (350.org, Community Reinvest, Platform, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Earth Scotland) and a team of dedicated volunteers.
This tool shows the value of fossil fuel holdings for each of the regional pension funds in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), and the percentage of the total fund these investments represent. The total figure is calculated from the direct equity holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies as well as estimated fossil fuel investments in pooled equity funds. All figures are therefore estimates and subject to change.
Our fossil fuel investment data does not include:
Equity in small or medium-sized fossil fuel companies;
Corporate bond holdings in fossil fuel companies;
Funds which co-mingle a proportion of equity holdings with property, bonds, and property;
Indirect exposure to fossil fuels, such as via financing from major banks
The data was collected through Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) to administering authorities for the 2013/14 financial year, which ended March 2014. Where councils failed to respond or provided incomplete data figures were taken from the pension funds 2013/14 annual reports.
“It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet” – Desmond Tutu, 2014.
The fossil fuel divestment movement calls for organisations, institutions and individuals to demonstrate climate leadership and divest from fossil fuels. It is the fastest growing divestment movement the world has ever seen.
We know that preventing catastrophic climate change requires us to leave 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. However, the fossil fuel industry not only intend to burn their huge reserves, they spend billions actively searching for more and lobbying our governments to prevent meaningful regulation. Unless we attack the political power of the fossil fuel industry, we will never get the action we need to address the climate crisis.
Divestment – publicly selling your shares in a particular industry – aims to morally and politically bankrupt the fossil fuel industry. It has proven to be a powerful tool in movements past; an international divestment movement helped bring down the South African apartheid government. By divesting, we can break the hold of the fossil fuel industry over our political system and create the space for action on climate change.