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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Campaigners reject Shropshire County Pension Fund’s new climate risk report

Campaigners from Fossil Free Shropshire, a grassroots group calling on the Shropshire County Pension Fund to stop investing in fossil fuels, protested outside Shirehall over the release of a new Climate Risk report at today’s pension fund meeting.

Fossil Free Shropshire demonstrated outside Shirehall dressed as scientists in order to highlight a controversial new report from the Shropshire County Pension Fund.
Fossil Free Shropshire demonstrated outside Shirehall dressed as scientists in order to highlight a controversial new report from the Shropshire County Pension Fund.

The report, commissioned by Shropshire’s flagship £2 billion fund, analyses the risk to investments if global average temperatures increase by 2C, 3C and 4C. The Shropshire County Pension fund believes that the report justifies its continued investment in fossil fuels – including holding shares in BP and Shell and its ties to BlackRock, the world’s biggest investor in coal, gas and oil – even though Shropshire Council called on the fund to divest back in July.  

Campaigners dressed as scientists demonstrated outside the council’s headquarters with a giant thermometer to highlight the report’s focus on what will happen to the fund’s profits at 2C, 3C and 4C of warming. They also delivered a copy of the landmark United Nations IPCC report to the Pension Fund, calling on the committee members to “listen to the science”.

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“The pension fund’s new report is a work of fiction,” said Jo Blackman, a spokesperson for Fossil Free Shropshire. “It makes no mention of 1.5C, the level that the Paris Agreement asks the world to stay below. It says that a catastrophic 2C of warming will be beneficial for profits and it thinks that 4C will only impact its returns by 0.06% a year. Scientists tell us that 4C is a game over scenario that will result in hundreds of millions dead, the collapse of eco-systems and a climate that is impossible for humans to adapt to. This report must have been written in cloud cuckoo land.”

At today’s Pension Fund Committee meeting several members of the public are scheduled to ask questions including Alice Russell (9) and Annabelle Read (10). The children say they have watched Sir David Attenborough’s documentary A Life On Our Planet and are worried about the future.

They quote Sir David’s claim that: “It is crazy that our banks and our pension funds are investing in fossil fuel, when these are the very things that are jeopardising the future which we are saving for.” The children will ask if the pension fund agrees with the famous broadcaster or not.

Another question will ask the committee members to read the United Nations IPCC report and compare the new Climate Risk report with the science. The landmark IPCC report was released in 2018. It highlights the need for rapid and unprecedented decarbonisation before 2030 to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C and avoid catastrophic droughts, wild fires and eco-system collapse around the world.

“Since declaring a Climate Emergency in May 2019 the council has set science-based goals of cutting its emissions by 10% every year to 2030 in order to keep us safe,” says Jo Blackman “So why is the Shropshire County Pension Fund ignoring the science and condemning our children and grandchildren to a hellish 2C, 3C or 4C world?”

“The fund is actively planning for a future in which hundreds of millions of people will die while investing in BP and Shell. The irony is, they’re not even making money from these climate-wrecking oil investments any more. UK public pension funds have suffered a £2 billion loss because of the collapse in oil prices since 2017, while renewable companies are booming. This new report deserves to be sent straight to the recycling bin.”

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