Letter to the Editor: Gloucestershire County Council has so far failed to replace its Pension Fund investments in fossil fuels with lower carbon alternatives – other pension funds have already done this.
And the council’s pensions committee seems unable to explain why. At last week’s committee meeting I asked for a list of the advantages of keeping members’ contributions in fossil fuels.
The committee chair’s written answer did not answer this question, and he waffled in answers given to other members of the public around what the committee is doing to address climate change by reducing investments in fossil fuels.
The recurring theme of the answers was that investment decisions are made by the Brunel Pension Partnership (BPP), which manages the investments for the pension funds of Gloucestershire and other counties. And BPP will not tell its fund managers what to invest in.
This issue is hugely important to local government and other public and third sector workers in the county whose pension funds are managed by the GCC committee – and to council-tax payers, as they too contribute to the funds.
The members of the Gloucestershire Committee, and by extension, the County Council, have a responsibility to everyone who relies (or will rely) on the fund in their retirement. That responsibility (contrary to what the committee appears to think) is not just to grow the fund but also to ensure the long-term viability of the planet so that pensioners in 30-50-70 years have somewhere pleasant to live.
Many of the people who start contributing to their local government pension this year will still be drawing their pension 75 years from now in 2098. There is no point going for short-term growth in the fund if that creates a planet with a climate where these future pensioners cannot live.
There is nothing – apart from a lack of will – to stop GCC from divesting from fossil fuels and investing pension fund money in schemes that will benefit humanity: such as affordable housing and local renewable energy schemes. Other pension funds do this.
Pension committee meetings are open to the public. If any readers would like to join me at the next one (on Thursday December 7 at 10am), please leave your details at http://bit.ly/GCCpensions.
Alan Mossman, Stroud Green Party