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Council pledges to carry on reducing pension fund fossil fuel investments

PUBLISHED: 10:38 13 September 2018

Islington Council staff and members of the public at a meeting last year. Picture: Fossil Free Islington

Islington Council staff and members of the public at a meeting last year. Picture: Fossil Free Islington

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Islington Council was last night (Wed) set to approve proposals to further reduce the town hall’s pension fund investments in fossil fuels.

The pensions board and pension’s sub-committee were both set to meet with councillors expected to announce plans for a four-year strategy designed to cut the fund’s carbon footprint.

Sub-committee chair Cllr Dave Poyser said: “Last year, we cut the carbon footprint of the fund’s shares by 45 per cent, reducing the fund’s carbon emissions by 14,243 tonnes a year.

“Decarbonisation is not only about protecting the planet, it is also about protecting the financial interests of the scheme’s 21,000 members and 6,600 pensioners, when coal, oil and gas assets end up ‘stranded’ underground.”

The council is to take a “three-pronged approach” by exploring ways to reduce the pension fund’s carbon footprint, looking for renewable energy investments and engaging with energy companies to encourage a reduction in carbon-reliance.

The committee is slated to discuss a detailed plan for divestment and reducing the pension fund’s carbon footprint in December.

As of June, the council’s pension fund has over £14.5m invested in Shell and £5m in BP. The council’s low carbon strategy means these investments have fallen, from £20.7m and £10.2m respectively in 2017.

Over the past year the council has moved a number of its investments to low carbon tracker funds and pension fund staff will now look to continue this process.

This comes a week after campaign groups PlatformLondon, 350.org and Friends of the Earth released data estimating that 2.48 per cent of the council’s pension fund is invested in fracking companies, including BP and Shell.

This figure includes direct investments and those held in pooled funds. Other boroughs, including Brent and Lewisham, have pledged to divest entirely from their fossil fuel investments.

Last night also saw the pension fund annual report presented. The report explains the fund returned a 4.1pc yield this year, but it continues to perform poorly compared to similar funds due to “poor performance of our equity managers in 2017”. The fund’s market value has increased to £1.3billion.

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