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UK Fossil Fuel Investments

UK Fossil Fuel Investments 24 February 2021

UK councils still invest in fossil fuels despite declaring climate emergency (via The Guardian)

Local councils that have declared a climate emergency are continuing to pour money into fossil fuels through their staff pension funds, analysis has shown.

Nearly £10bn worth of investments in fossil fuels, including oil and gas companies such as BP and Shell, were found in local government pension funds in the last financial year, according to an assessment by the campaign groups Platform and Friends of the Earth.

Councils in Greater Manchester, Strathclyde, West Midlands and West Yorkshire had the biggest investments in fossil fuels, accounting between them for nearly a fifth of local government pension fund fossil fuel investments in the UK. The Greater Manchester combined authority had more than £1bn invested in fossil fuels in the financial year 2019–20, accounting for nearly 5% of its pension fund, with the other three areas at about £500m in investment each.

All of these combined authorities have declared a climate emergency. Councils often join together to invest their pension funds, so the funds do not always correspond exactly to specific local authorities.

Councils have been reducing their exposure to high–carbon investments. Similar research in 2015 found £14bn was invested in fossil fuels.

Several other smaller pension funds also had about 5% of their assets invested in fossil fuels, including Teesside, Dyfed and Dorset.

Three companies alone – BP, Shell, and BHP – account for about 40% of all direct investments in fossil fuels by local council pension funds. Of the fossil fuel investments by councils, the majority – about £6.5bn out of £10bn – were in oil and gas, but about a third of the investments were in coal. Coal has become a hot issue for councils as Cumbria is reconsidering a new coalmine, after outrage when the government gave green light to the proposal.

Read the full story here.

Read UK Divest report here.