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Call for pension fund to divest from fossil fuel

written by Bella Palmer
pension-fund

Should Kirklees follow through it will join neighbouring authorities in calling on the fund to move away from stakes in oil and gas companies

Council chiefs in Kirklees will encourage the West Yorkshire Pension Fund to stop investing in fossil fuels.

The revelation came at a meeting of full council on Wednesday and received applause from councillors.

Should Kirklees follow through it will join neighbouring authorities in calling on the fund to move away from stakes in oil and gas companies.

Cabinet member Paul Davies said: The West Yorkshire Pension Fund does have an ethical basis to it with criteria that’s linked to that. And investments are, on a regular basis, reviewed against these.

But what we will be doing, I absolutely assure you, is using our influence to stop the fund investing in companies that produce fossil fuels, and moving its current investments to such companies elsewhere, he said.

His comments were in response to a question from Green group leader Andrew Cooper, who asked whether Kirklees would be following the lead of neighbours in recommending that the WYPF divests from fossil fuel investments.

Reacting to the news Clr Cooper said: That’s progress. It’s been a number of years, I’ve got to say, since I first raised fossil fuels and the WYPF. I’m pleased about that, and good to hear it.

However not all members gave their support to Clr Davies’ announcement.

Clr Aleks Lukic said the matter of divestment was to be discussed at a meeting next week of West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) – a group of leading councillors and officers from West Yorkshire councils, plus York, that works on major infrastructure projects.

He said the Combined Authority will ask the WYPF to provide an annual statement to West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin on divestment from fossil fuel companies and other environmentally damaging activities regardless of their financial performance.

Clr Lukic added: No evidence is given for why WYCA or Tracy Brabin consider that blanket divestment from fossil fuel companies would help to control climate change.

The West Yorkshire Pension Fund has already publicly stated it considers the appropriate way forward is not to divest, but instead to work with companies in which it holds shares to promote improved sustainability, he said.

He said: The WYPF has demonstrated a record of success in ensuring large fossil fuel producers adopt new measures relating to climate change and reporting. If the fund divests from these companies then it will be unable to influence their approach to climate change in future.

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