WMPF reveals fossil fuel exposure

So now we know. West Midlands Pension Fund have finally declared in a response to a Freedom of Information request by DivestWMPF that at the end of 2019, by their own calculation, they had £587 million invested in fossil fuel companies.

If you live in Wolverhampton, please click the button below to email your councillor about this:

In December last year, WMPF finally released a climate change disclosure report , after pressure from an increasingly impatient Pensions Committee, from campaigners, and a public that is increasingly alarmed by climate risk on the future they will be retiring into. Embedded in this report was a chart that appears to show 6.9% of equities invested in fossil fuels, a figure higher than previously estimated by campaigners.

This information hasn’t come easily. Since the DivestWMPF campaign started, it has been a struggle to figure out how much of the fund was invested in fossil fuels. Since the launch of DivestWMPF in 2015, campaiTake actiongners have had to pour through lists of assets provided by the pension funds, comparing with lists of those companies holding fossil fuel reserves. This effort is hindered by many black box indirect investment funds making it impossible to know exactly how much of members’ pensions are supporting this most destructive of industries.

This wasn’t enough for DivestWMPF. We wanted to know how much was invested by our local government on behalf of council workers in the industry that has most contributed to the destruction of the climate. So we submitted a Freedom of Information request and to the managers credit, we got direct answers to our questions. The pension fund declares £587 million, £100 per person in the West Midlands invested in fossil fuels as of Dec 2019. The Fund’s definition is different from the metric traditionally used by campaigners, which is based on companies in the top 200 companies holding fossil fuel reserves. From the FoI response:

The carbon risk metrics within the Fund’s TCFD Report are based on a dataset provided by MSCI ESG Research. MSCI define ‘weight in Fossil Fuels’ as the portfolio weight in companies that own fossil fuel reserves.

DivestWMPF will continue to press for this to be £0 per person. The West Midlands cannot simultaneously declare a climate emergency and continue to fund companies which fight to maintain the status quo, plan for expansion of drilling and lobby against the necessary policy changes.

If you live in Wolverhampton, please take part in our e-campaign and write to your local councillor about this:

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