Surrey Pension Fund’s first baby step to wean itself off oil and gas investments

12 June 2018

Surrey County Council Pension Fund missed an opportunity to make a substantial cut to its carbon footprint today despite being told by advisers of the risks of keeping funds in fossil fuels. The Fund has investments locked into about 750,000 tonnes of polluting carbon per year.

Members of the Pension Fund Committee agreed to cut the Fund’s carbon footprint of the fund by just 3%, whereas moving funds away from fossil fuel companies would make a direct cut of 17%.

The decision did not include any changes in the active fund investment which accounts for 72% of Surrey’s investments in fossil fuel companies.

Surrey has millions of pounds invested in companies like BP and Shell. Its new asset management arrangements will reduce that but place more emphasis on the world market, which includes in its top 10 Exxon Mobil.   

Members of Divest Surrey and Surrey Green Party raised several questions at the meeting, directed at establishing the true cost of Surrey’s climate wrecking investments.

Green Councillor Jonathan Essex said: “The Pension Fund Committee has made a start on getting out of investments that are carbon heavy. But they could be doing so much more. Other local councils – like Monmouthshire County Council – have passed motions to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry.”

“After discussing for over a year whether it should divest from fossil fuels, Surrey’s Pension Fund Committee has just voted to reduce its carbon emissions by a paltry 3%. Surrey now needs to ratchet up its commitment and shift all its remaining funds to low-carbon investments, alongside ending all its investments in coal, oil and gas companies.”

 “At the start of today’s meeting, the Committee was told that the Pension Regulator has said now that climate change and associated risks IS financially material, so fiduciary duty on this is a sensible course of action. Climate change needs bold action not baby steps”.

Advisers, TruCost [1], told the meeting that low carbon funds were no more risky than high carbon, and some were more lucractive.

Ends

Notes:

1.    TruCost report to Surrey Pension Fund: Equity Portfolio Carbon Footprint 2018