Shropshire Star

WATCH: Children (and dinosaurs) raise climate concern over Shropshire Council pension fund

Children from across the county have joined forces to put a plea to Shropshire’s public sector pension fund to stop investing in fossil fuels.

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Youngsters Alice Russell 9, and Ana Russell 9, were joined by dinosaurs to hand in a petition asking the council to think about their investments into fossil fuel companies.

Accompanied by two adult-sized dinosaurs, nine-year-olds Alice Russell and Ana Russell delivered a letter bearing the names of 116 children to Shropshire Council’s headquarters ahead of a meeting of the council’s pensions committee.

The letter asks the committee to pledge that the Shropshire County Pension Fund, which manages the retirement funds of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin Councils, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and the county’s town and parish councils, will divest from fossil fuels.

The letter, written by Alice, says: “We are children of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

“We are worried about the climate crisis. We are writing to ask a question.

“When will you stop funding fossil fuel companies that damage the planet and our future?

“Will you do it at tomorrow’s meeting?”

The letter is illustrated with a picture of a dinosaur and the warning that, “the dinosaurs thought they had time too”.

It has been submitted as a formal public question to be answered at the meeting today.

“I want to tell the pension fund committee that they are destroying our home by investing in fossil fuels,” said Alice.

“It’s the wrong thing to do. I’m scared that if we don’t listen what the scientists are telling us, the planet will get hotter and hotter and all my favourite animals will die. I want them to invest in a greener future.”

Ally Stockwell, 17, one of the older signatories of the letter, said: “I signed because I want to see my future children live their lives in a clean and sustainable environment without climate-anxiety.

“I would like to see Shropshire branch out to more renewable resources that will benefit everybody.”

The children’s letter is supported by Fossil Free Shropshire, a grassroots campaign group comprised of Shropshire residents and pension fund members who are concerned about the fund’s continued investment in fossil fuels.

“We really need the Shropshire County Pension Fund to realise the urgency of the situation,” said Paul Cooper, one of the founders of the group and a pension fund member.

“These children turn on the TV and see their world on fire, from the Arctic Circle to the West Coast of America.

“It is morally abhorrent for our pensions to be funding this.

“By 2050 Alice will be almost 40 years old. What kind of world are we leaving her?”

At the meeting, the pension fund committee will receive a climate risk report outlining how climate change will affect its investment portfolio. But the group highlighted the fact that there has been no similar report addressing what the impact the fund’s investments have on the climate.

Earlier this month, a response to a freedom of information request filed by Fossil Free Shropshire revealed that the pension fund committee does not know the estimated carbon footprint of the county’s pension fund, nor does it know how much CO2 would be saved if it divested. The committee also revealed that it does not know what steps it needs to take to meet the targets set by Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin Councils to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“The pension fund committee has spent valuable time working out how to safeguard its profits if the world warms by catastrophic levels to 2, 3 and 4C,” added Mr Cooper.

“But it hasn’t bothered to find out what risk its investments pose to the planet we all share. Can any of the members of the pension fund committee look these children in the eye and say that the fund’s profits are more important than their right to a stable climate?”

The children’s question will be answered at the pensions committee meeting today.

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