‘Fuelling the fire’ – pension authorities invest in climate-wrecking fossil fuels

National data released today has revealed that South Yorkshire Pension Authority is investing £360 million in the fossil fuel industry through their management of the local government pension fund [1]. Campaigners say the controversial investments threaten the climate and also represent an unacceptable financial risk to pension-holders.

The release of the ‘Fuelling the Fire’ report and data coincides with UN international climate talks taking place in Bonn, Germany, which the UK government is attending. It highlights the incompatibility of the UK’s climate action promises with continued investment in the fossil fuel industry.

Members of South Yorkshire Fossil Free and Sheffield Climate Alliance outside Sheffield Town Hall

Members of South Yorkshire Fossil Free and Sheffield Climate Alliance outside Sheffield Town Hall

Kate Stott, local campaigner from South Yorkshire Fossil Free and Sheffield Climate Alliance commented:

“It’s shocking to see our pension authority investing so significantly in such a financially risky and morally bankrupt industry.

Two years ago, our government agreed to the Paris Treaty – pledging that the UK, along with the rest of the world, would take real action to tackle climate change. Following that decision, Sheffield City Council, along with both city universities pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

This makes it even more disappointing that South Yorkshire Pension Authority (SYPA) continues to invest in the companies responsible for the crisis. This flies in the face of this agreement, and of all the efforts being made locally to reduce emissions and combat climate change.”

Ellen Gibson, Divestment Campaigner with 350.org added:

“With hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, wildfires ravaging southern Europe and flooding and drought destroying lives across the world – the impacts of climate change are hitting hard.

Despite this, UK pension authorities are still ploughing billions into companies like Exxon, Shell and BP who have spent decades fuelling the crisis, and profiting on its back.

Climate change isn’t a problem for future generations – it’s happening now, and action has never been more urgent. Our pension authorities, and all public institutions, must cut their ties with the fossil fuel companies responsible and divest.”

The data and online map released today by 350.org, Platform 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 in. Across the UK, council pension funds invest a total of £16.1 billion in oil, coal and gas companies.

Full divestment commitments have so far been made by two UK council pension funds, with a further four making partial commitments [2]. The campaign to divest local council pensions has this year received backing from Unison and the TUC [3].

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  1. To view the full national data set and for more information, click here.
  2. Waltham Forest and Southwark Council Pension Funds have committed to phase out all fossil fuel investments from their portfolio. To see the full list of global divestment commitments, click here.
  3. Read more on Unison’s decision on Platform’s blog. View the text of the TUC motion – adopted unanimously – on the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy website