Data released today (Thursday) reveals that UK councils invest £16.1 billion of their workers’ pensions into companies that extract coal, oil and gas – the Isle of Wight Council has invested £43million, or 7.74% of its pensions.
While the United Nations meet in Bonn to discuss progress on Paris Agreement climate goals, the new data reveals that UK local government pensions are financially invested in the industry most responsible for climate change.
Compared to 2015 data, investments in fossil fuels by councils nationally have gone up in real terms (from £14bn) and did not change significantly in proportion to the size of the pension funds. These figures show that councils have not made any significant changes to their investments in response to calls from the climate movement, governments, and shareholders to take climate risk into account, in the 2 years since the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The data and online map released by 350.org, Platform, Energy Democracy Project and Friends of the Earth ranks councils by their fossil fuel investments, and allows residents to see every company or fund their local council has invested into.
The Isle of Wight Council has a total of £559million invested.
The UK government mandated local governments to combine their pension investments into 8 pools from 2015. The Isle of Wight Council’s pool (Access) invests £1.8billion out of its £34.9 billion into fossil fuels.
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East and Vice President of the Local Government Association, has condemned the Isle of Wight Council:
“It’s shocking to see such huge sums of Isle of Wight taxpayers’ money pumped into climate destructive, financially risky and, frankly, morally bankrupt industries.”
“At a time when the renewable energy industry is one of the fastest growing in the world it makes no sense for Isle of Wight Council to still be investing in fossil fuels. With the right investment, the Island could be a world-class centre for renewable energy.”
“Representatives from across the globe are in Germany right now at COP23 to put together an effective plan to implement the Paris Agreement which the UK government signed up to two years ago. The accord commits Britain and every other country in the world – apart from America – to taking real action to tackle climate change.”
“At a time when the Conservative Government has already admitted the UK is on course to miss its vital climate targets, it is unforgivable that the Tory-run Isle of Wight Council is also burying its head in the sand when it comes to the climate crisis and our commitments under the Paris Agreement.”
“Climate change isn’t a shadowy spectre looming on some distant horizon – it is happening now. The need for bold action has never been more urgent. Just 100 multinational fossil fuel companies are responsible for more than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions, the time for our councils to cut their ties with the dirty industries fuelling climate change is long overdue.”