Hampshire councils' pension fund criticised for fossil fuel investments

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Hampshire County Council Elizabeth ll CourtImage source, Google
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The county council is among the local authorities in Hampshire to have declared a climate emergency

A pension fund for Hampshire councils has invested more than £100m in fossil fuels, despite local authorities declaring a climate emergency, campaigners have revealed.

Freedom of Information requests showed the Hampshire Pension Fund invested £45.5m in coal and £90.5m into oil and gas as of April 2020.

Environmentalists called on the councils to "invest in clean energy".

The fund said it aimed to "positively engage" with companies.

The county council, Portsmouth and Southampton unitary authorities, and 11 borough or district councils use the fund as an investment vehicle, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The Freedom of Information requests were made by Friends of the Earth and campaign group Platform.

Co-founder of the Final Straw Foundation, Bianca Carr, said it was "ethically... the wrong thing" as the COP26 summit gets underway in Glasgow.

She said: "Local authorities should be setting an example for others to follow, so I find it very strange for them to be investing in fossil fuels.

"Why they aren't investing in clean energy - especially when they have declared a climate emergency - is beyond me. It seems counter-intuitive, nonsensical even."

A spokeswoman for the Hampshire Pension Fund Panel and Board said 1.9% of its funds were invested in fossil fuel companies, lower than the average of 3.1% for English local government pension scheme funds.

"The fund's policy is not to disinvest from any particular company or industry, such as fossil fuel producers, but to positively engage with these companies through its investment managers and to influence positive change in this way," she said.

She added the carbon footprint of the fund's investments has reduced over the last year.

In Hampshire, the county council, Portsmouth and Southampton city councils, and the boroughs of Basingstoke and Deane, East Hampshire, Fareham, Rushmoor, Test Valley and Winchester have all declared climate emergencies.

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