Campaigners from Fossil Free Shropshire delivered 1,000 postcards to the Shropshire Pension Fund at Shirehall yesterday, calling on the fund to stop investing in fossil fuels.
The delivery comes ahead of a key vote on 17 January when the Pension Fund Committee – which is comprised of six councillors from Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils – meets to decide on the future of the fund.
The upcoming vote is the result of a landmark motion at Shropshire Council in July 2020. It called on the county’s pension fund to recognise the reality of the climate crisis and stop investing in companies like BP, Shell and Glencore by 2023. Similar motions and expressions of support for divestment also came from Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Wem, and Telford & Wrekin councils, all of whom pay into the £2b fund.
Kris Welch, a spokesperson for Fossil Free Shropshire, said: ‘These 1,000 postcards, signed by ordinary people from across the county and beyond, send a powerful message to the Pension Committee ahead of their vote next week. People want to see Shropshire’s flagship fund start taking the climate crisis seriously.’
The divestment debate is expected to be tense, with the six person committee led by Conservative chairman Councillor Thomas Biggins (Cons, Whitchurch), split along party lines. On Monday a controversial report commissioned by the pension fund advised that stopping investment in climate change-causing fossil fuels before 2050 is ‘not in the best interests’ of the fund’s 50,000 members.
In response Councillor Julian Dean, leader of Shropshire Council’s Green Party group, said staying investing in fossil fuels to 2050 would be ‘murderous to future generations and risky for our pensioners.’
Says Ms Welch: “We are disappointed to see that the announcement of this new report, which hasn’t been made public yet, is being used to predetermine the committee’s vote. We would point out that the fund hasn’t actually bothered to ask its 50,000 members their opinion on how their pensions are invested. Is it in Shropshire pensioners best interests to see the planet burn? Is it in pensioners best interests to invest in a sector that has been less profitable than renewables for the last decade?
“Fossil Free Shropshire believes that the Pension Fund Committee has a stark financial and ethical choice next week. Either it continues with business as usual, ignoring all the evidence from scientists and financial experts, or it wakes up and joins the thousands of other pension funds who are rushing for the exits before the carbon bubble bursts.”