How would you invest £490 million to improve your local area?

Your pension could build a better future for your children: here’s how. 

The West Midlands LGPS Pension fund currently has over £490 million invested in the oil, coal and gas industries, who are driving the climate change that’s threatening all of our futures. It’s our money, we’ve worked and saved for it, it’s our retirement plans. And it’s our planet that we, our children and grandchildren have to live on. 

Why should we accept a scenario where “planetary survival is pitted against pensioners’ future income”? No-one needs to choose between their retirement and their children and grandchildren’s futures – there’s another way to do this. 

We need to move beyond just taking pension money out of fossil fuel companies and putting it into slightly less damaging alternatives and start actively using our money to build the future we want together. The solution is to take back the money we have produced, and start investing it in building community-owned and run alternatives. This allows us to have more of a say in what types of green future we want to see in our communities, to create local jobs and address local concerns such as fuel poverty. We could invest in community-owned renewable energy, infrastructure such as trams, community-supported agriculture to produce healthy local food, or better social housing – the possibilities are huge. 

This has already started to happen elsewhere. Lancashire pension fund has invested in Westmill Solar Cooperative, which produces enough power to run 1600 homes. And Islington council has invested £150 million from its pension in building social housing

This is why Divest West Midlands is calling on the West Midlands Pension fund to divest from fossil fuels and start reinvesting in building the new green economy. 

What would you like to see your pension fund money doing locally? 

Look out for our report coming soon that covers the technical issues in more detail. 

Further resources: 

Platform’s paper Energy Beyond Neoliberalism

Community Reinvest’s report on Reinvesting Pension Funds

Walsall Council to debate fossil fuel divestment motion.

On Monday the 15th July Walsall Council will debate a fossil fuel divestment motion, calling on West Midlands Pension Fund to divest from oil , coal and gas. The motion is proposed by Councillors Shires, Barker,C. Bott, P. Bott and Young.

The motion says:

Walsall Council notes reports on BBC News 12 June 2019 by Roger Harrabin
Environmental Analyst that the UK Government was to commit to almost zero
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and Prime Minister Theresa May’s
comments that:


There was a “moral duty to leave this world in a better condition than what we
inherited” and that “Cutting emissions would benefit public health and cut NHS
costs”.

For full details of the motion see; ‘Notice of Motion – Fossil Fuels ‘

To lobby your councillor see https://divestwmpf.org/lobby-your-councillor/

N,B Unfortunately the motion was defeated.

Coventry Declares a Climate Non-Emergency

On Tuesday 18th June, in declaring a “Climate Emergency”. This was a welcome symbolic step forward for the city. Unfortunately, Coventry failed to set out a meaningful target for climate change, as the council resolved to “recommend the course of action that we are currently undertaking”. Jim O’Boyle praised Coventry’s record on climate change, but falls in greenhouse gas emissions have been small and mostly due to rising poverty and deindustrialisation. Transport emissions remain stubbornly high, and the city’s highest source of greenhouse emissions comes from food.

Coventry needs to follow Birmingham’s lead and set out a target for net zero by at least 2030. In our proposed motion we set out a manifesto for achieving this target.

How will this be funded? Clearly government need to play their part, but the council also needs to follow Birmingham in calling for the West Midlands Pension Fund to divest from oil and gas companies that are pouring billions into exploring for more fossil fuels when they already have excessive reserves. These funds could benefit local green projects and divestment would send a strong signal to the global investment community that we cannot continue to bankroll climate destruction.

Climate Emergency Divestment

This Tuesday, 11th June, Birmingham City Council voted unanimously to commit to a 2030 target for net-zero. This was a bold and necessary commitment which will shape all decision making in the city council over the coming years. Councillors spoke passionatly about improving home insulation, decarbonising transport and ensuring a just transition. But I want to highlight the speech by Cllr John Clancy who pointed out that in two years since Birmingham City Council came together to call for the West Midlands Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuel companies, nothing has happened. Here is a transcript of his speech:

Clearly this is an outstanding motion, which deserves our support which fills me with confidence in our future. However two years ago next month this council came together as we have done today to commit to a motion that made Birmingham City Council pledge to review its investment strategy and develop and implement a responsible investment policy which rules out new investments in fossil fuel companies. Do you remember that? That was two years ago next month. We came together.

In particular we took a view that the West Midlands Pension Fund (my favourite body as you all know) should immediately freeze any new investments in the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies; to divest from direct ownership and in any co-mingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within five years; set out an approach to quantifying and addressing climate change risks affecting all other investments; and so on and so forth.

It was very important that we passed that. I cannot see any evidence actually that that has had any impact at all. And if you look at the top 20 investments of the West Midlands Pension Fund, you will see oil companies, and I think the amount invested in them has actually increased in the last two years. So BP – two BP funds in particular; we’ve got a whole range of mining companies that we’re invested in.

We have to take a view that if the city council is going to be net zero carbon by 2030, we have to look at what our investments in the West Midlands Pension Fund are doing at the same time.

Now, you may not know how much money went from this City Council to the West Midlands Pension Fund this last year, because the accounts are out. Last year, this city council gave to the West Midlands Pension Fund to invest for its employees and former employees half a billion pounds – in one year. That’s how much we’re paying into that fund. You think how much is going into that fund between now and 2030.

Now it has to be said about 80% of those funds are just in equities. They’re invested wherever. Very little is invested in this country, and we did in our motion two years ago ask to look at what local investment policy that pension fund was going to start to invest towards. I can see no evidence of that having happened. This year whilst we handed an extra 100 million pounds to that pension fund, it paid out £80 million to its investment managers. And those investment managers need to start advising how we start to divest, because it is a case of if you don’t decarbonise capitalism, it’s going to fail.

And we need to get to a situation where most of the fossil fuel companies in the equity markets are nowhere near getting to their Paris commitments. And the pension funds needs to divest from them or explain why that is not going to harm the beneficiaries of those pension funds.

So can we have in the task force a real effort to start to focus the minds of the West Midlands Pension Fund, investing our money. Thank you Lord Mayor.

We wish to thank Cllr Clancy for his words. He is absolutely right. It is unsustainable that the fund is putting its benificiaries pensions at risk by investing in fossil fuel companies which are driving the global climate and ecosystems to the brink of collapse. The fund must act now and divest from fossil fuels, as demanded by Birmingham City Council.

Climate Emergency Motion

Councils around the Midlands are declaring a Climate Emergency. We believe that any declaration of a climate emergency needs to include divestment of the local government pension fund (WMPF) from fossil fuels which are a huge contributor to the climate crisis.

We are delighted to hear that Coventry are due to debate a climate motion on Tuesday 18th June, but the current motion to be debated does not have teeth. We therefore urge all our supporters to contact your local councillor and ask for the motion to be improved.

Here is a suggested email which you can use to get in touch with your local councillor. If you live in Coventry, you can use the council website to find your councillor.


I understand a motion is due to be put to council on Tuesday 18th June regarding climate change. I implore you to include the following clauses in that motion.
Climate change will have a significant impact on our city and duly I have attached a
summary of the recent IPCC report for our city.

A number of low-cost actions that the council can take to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Friends of the Earth and Fossil Free Coventry have outlined 33 actions local authorities can take on climate change at the following link: https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/insight/33-actions-local-authorities-can-take-climate-change

Henceforth this council:

  1. Declares a ‘Climate Emergency’ that requires urgent action.
    Commits to making the Council’s activities net-zero carbon by 2030 or earlier.
  2. Will ensure the council owned waste incinerator does not burn any recyclable waste beyond 2020 and the city improves recycling rates recycling rates to the national average in line with the waste hierarchy
  3. Will ensure that all strategic decisions, budgets and approaches to planning decisions are in line with a shift to zero carbon by 2030.
  4. Will support and work with all other relevant agencies towards making the entire area zero carbon by 2030;
  5. Will ensure that political and chief officer leadership teams embed this work in all areas and take responsibility for reducing, as rapidly as possible, the carbon emissions resulting from the Council’s activities, ensuring that any recommendations are fully costed and that the Executive and Scrutiny functions review council activities taking account of lifecycle emissions.
  6. Will ensure Council Scrutiny Panels consider the impact of climate change and the environment when reviewing Council policies and strategies;
  7. Will work with, influence and inspire partners across the city and region to help deliver this goal through all relevant strategies, plans and shared resources by developing a series of meetings, events and partner workshops;
  8. Will request that the Council and partners take steps to proactively include young people and people of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in the process, ensuring that they
  9. Will consider the latest climate science and expert advice on solutions and to consider systematically the climate change impact of each area of the Council’s activities
  10. Will set up a Climate Change Partnership group, involving Councillors, residents, young citizens, climate science, experts, businesses and other relevant parties. Over the following 12 months, the Group will consider strategies and actions being developed by the Council and other partner organisations and develop a strategy in line with a target of net zero emissions by 2030. It will also recommend ways to maximise local benefits of these actions in other sectors such as employment, health, agriculture, transport and the economy
  11. Will divest investments and assets from companies engaged in fossil fuel extraction and electricity generation from fossil sources by 2021 or at the earliest opportunity as contracts expire and will lobby other councils in the WMCA and wider region to do likewise.
  12. Will ensure that all reports in preparation for the 2020/21 budget cycle and investment strategy will take into account the actions the council will take to address this emergency;
  13. Will call on the UK Government to provide the powers, resources and help with funding to make this possible, and ask local MPs to do likewise;
  14. Will proactively use local planning powers to minimise future emissions and ensure this is properly resourced
  15. Will ensure that the principle of a just transition is maintained in all decisions, ensuring decarbonisation does not lead to significant rises in poverty or disproportionally impact minority communities.”

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