Billions still invested in fossil fuels by local government pension funds

UK local government pensions invested almost £10bn in fossil fuels during the 2019/20 financial year, according to research.

On 23 February, Platform, Friend of the Earth and Friends of the Earth Scotland published a report, revealing that despite more than 75% of local councils declaring climate emergencies, UK local government pensions held £9.7bn of investments in fossil fuel companies. This works out at, at least £1,420 invested in fossil fuels for each of the 6.8mn people depending on these funds across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It means that fossil fuels represent 3% of the total value of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). In the East, Norfolk (3.28%) and Suffolk (3.53%) are both above the UK average, ahead of Essex (1.94%) and Cambridgeshire (2.82%). Greater Manchester, Strathclyde, West Yorkshire and the West Midlands are the four local authority pension funds with the largest investments in fossil fuels, accounting for almost 25% of all investments held, while Teesside, Dyfed and Dorset have the largest percentage of their assets invested in fossil fuels at around 5%.

The report urged UK councils to show their commitment to tackling the climate change ahead of COP26 by scrapping investments in companies causing climate damage, highlighting how investing in fossil fuels is both increasingly costly financially and politically.