Some good news from Fossil Free Oxfordshire, the Oxfordshire local government pension fund divestment campaign. The Conservative Party-dominated Oxfordshire Pension Fund committee now appears ready to move more of its pension fund assets into carbon-emission friendly funds at its next asset allocation meeting, which is a significant step toward divestment.
This sea change in attitude came after a Climate Change Workshop was held on 8th November 2019 to discuss how the Oxfordshire Pension Fund could play a part in tackling the climate crisis. The meeting included the Oxfordshire Pension Fund committee and board members, senior Brunel Pension Partnership executives, fund managers with expertise in low carbon funds, a leading climate scientist, an Oxford University student climate campaign representative, Oxfordshire District councillors holding senior environment positions and members of Fossil Free Oxfordshire. This all came about through the unrelenting pressure Fossil Free Oxfordshire has put on the Oxfordshire Pension Fund committee and County Council over the last few years.
The consensus achieved at the workshop was positive. All participants agreed that the Pension Fund should support the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees. Moreover, the fund management representatives who spoke at the workshop assured participants that Pension Fund performance would not be affected if assets were transferred into zero or low carbon investment funds; indeed, they argued that a move away from fossil fuels could be a source of superior Pension Fund returns.
Even more encouraging, a working group is being set up to incorporate the Climate Workshop’s conclusions into the Pension Fund’s new Investment Strategy Statement to be published in March 2020, and Fossil Free Oxfordshire has been invited to be a part of that group. This, we believe, will allow the divestment agenda to have a major impact on the allocation of the Pension Fund’s assets going forward.
While this is real progress, a lot more has to be done, and we need your help. Under a central Government directive, local government pension funds are being required to pool their assets. Most of Oxfordshire Pension Fund’s assets are to be managed by the Brunel Pension Partnership, along with the assets of Avon, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, the Environment Agency, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. Accordingly, we urge all local environmental and climate groups within the Brunel region to pressure their local pension funds to recognise the climate emergency and allocate their pension fund assets accordingly.
We realise, nonetheless, that mounting a divestment campaign can be quite daunting, as a starting point you could review the Climate Workshop briefing document that supported our campaign. We hope that this report will give you valuable information in helping to persuade your local government pension fund to play its part in fighting the climate crisis.
If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org