Following a request from Calderdale Friends of the Earth, the Leader of Calderdale Council, Councillor Tim Swift, has agreed to consider the case for divesting funds invested in fossil fuels. This follows a decision by neighbouring Kirklees Council to look at fossil free divestment.
Councillor Swift said: “I have considered the motion approved by Kirklees Council and I am prepared to ask the Head of Finance to undertake reviews of our policies in respect of investment in fossil fuels.” The council’s current strategy for investing its own funds already excludes such investment, he said. “The Council does not therefore directly invest in fossil fuel industries but I will ask the Head of Finance to consider this issue explicitly within the next review.”
With regard to investments made by West Yorkshire Pension Fund (where the WYPF has 6.5% of its £11 billion pension fund invested in fossil fuels; at £671 million the third largest fossil fuel holdings of all UK local authority pension funds) Councillor Swift said that “the Council’s representative on the WYPF investment panel is prepared to raise the issue of its investment in fossil fuels.” He added that the Pension Fund is already looking into investments in renewable energy technologies.
Anthony Rae, coordinator of Calderdale Friends of the Eath said: ‘We welcome this positive response from our council, demonstrating that in the run-up to the critical climate change negotiations in Paris in December they recognise that they can do their bit to support the push for massively urgent carbon reduction. We pointed out that they would better protect the value of the investments needed for the long-term security of pensions by divesting from dirty fuels like coal at an early date and reinvesting instead in other areas with a more assured future and with a good rate of return. For example, investment in the energy efficiency of our housing stock should meet those criteria as well as providing many other benefits.”
For information on UK local authority pension fund investment in fossil fuels: http://gofossilfree.org/uk/pensions/
Investments of WYPF are listed here: www.wypf.org.uk/Member/Investments/InvestmentPortfolio/2015/WYPFValuation2015.aspx
Halifax Courier article: www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/news/670-million-of-bad-investment-for-councils-1-7517758