County pension fund should pull out of fossil fuel companies, says councillor

County Hall, West Bridgford
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

A county councillor is determined to persuade his local authority to pull its pension fund cash out of fossil fuel companies.

Ashfield councillor Lee Waters (Ind) told the Nottinghamshire Pension Fund Committee that the global climate emergency meant there were some companies where the council should not invest its pension fund. 

The pension fund looks after the retirement pots for Nottinghamshire council workers, teachers and other public sector employees

Cllr Waters said: “There are some companies we should completely disinvest from, such as fossil fuel [companies].

“There’s a lot of benefit from engaging with some companies. But should we be investing in fossil fuel companies? I would say no.

“For me, you can’t positively engage with those companies.

“Disinvesting out of fossil fuels means getting ahead of the curve. I would do that now and I would look to invest more in robotics and things like that.

“There are some companies we shouldn’t be investing in.”

But Andre Camilleri (Cons) said fossil fuel companies needed the funds to become more green.

He added: “These companies are in transition as well. What they are trying to do is become environmentally friendly. If we disinvest they can’t do that.

“Our job is to stay with it and make them understand the importance of a clean environment.

“These companies need our money to research and work at it. If we take our money out that won’t work.”

Earlier in the meeting at County Hall on July 29, campaigners from Extinction Rebellion and Divest Notts interrupted the committee to read out a speech.

The chair adjourned the meeting for eight minutes.

Part of the XR speech said: “It is your duty and responsibility to all pension fund holders and on behalf of the people of Nottinghamshire and future generations to act with integrity and honour the commitments that you have made to carbon neutrality.

Group Manager Finance at Nottinghamshire County Council Keith Palframan told the meeting: “Many fossil fuel companies are now putting climate-related resolutions before shareholders.

“LAP [The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum] maintains that it isn’t appropriate to give credit to companies for merely recognising climate change exists.”

 

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