Town council pledge over pension fund
Town councillors have pledged to investigate whether to put pressure on the county’s pension fund to stop investing in fossil fuels.
Two public questions to Shrewsbury Town Council urged members to push the Shropshire County Pension Fund towards divesting from fossil fuels, citing environmental concerns and plummeting demand across the sector in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pension fund manages the retirement funds of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin council staff, town and parish council employees and those of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
It currently has £27 million invested in BP and Shell, and uses asset manager BlackRock, which has faced criticism over its work in the Amazon rainforest.
New campaign group Fossil Free Shropshire is now putting pressure on the authorities to influence the pension fund to switch to greener investments.
In response to the public questions, town council leader Alan Mosely said: “I am pleased that this has arisen, it’s obviously going to be the subject of significant debate locally and no doubt nationally in due course.
“The two questions relate to our involvement in the pension fund, which we have been a member of since we were established in 2009.
“We are aware of the representations that are being made about the pension fund’s investment portfolio and over the years there has been a change in the environmental, social and governance models for the investment.
“It has been more pro-active in investing in companies where the pension fund can influence a company’s future direction.”
Councillor Mosley said the issue should be discussed by a council committee, to “revisit the level of influence we have over the pension fund and whether we wish to exercise that influence in making recommendations that they change their policy”.
He concluded: “I will commit that we will get further information from the pension fund and it will be thoroughly discussed at the next Finance and General Purposes Committee.”
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