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Fossil fuels investment by county council ‘must stop’
DEMANDS have been made for a local authority to pull almost £28m of investments in fossil fuel companies.
Oxford city councillors have written to Oxfordshire County Council urging it to stop the investments, which are made from employees’ pension funds.
Senior city councillor John Tanner, the executive board member for Cleaner, Greener Oxford, said: “The Labour-run city council has no investments in any fossil fuel companies. Burning oil, coal and gas are dead ends for our planet.
“As councillors working to tackle climate change at a city level, we are also investing in renewable energy with financial support for the Low Carbon Hub.
“We are writing to Oxfordshire County Council to urge them to sell off any investments in fossil fuel companies. What’s more, we will be talking to our trade unions about pushing the county council pension fund to jettison any companies that work against our climate goals.”
According to information released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Oxfordshire Pension Fund invests £27.9m – £15m in Royal Dutch Shell, £2.2m in BP and £1.7m in PetroChina.
The pension fund also has £2.2m in Marathon Oil, £1.9m in Statoil, and Petrofac has £4.9m invested in it. These figures include accrued interest.
Employees contribute towards pension funds to provide an income for them in retirement, and this money is pooled together and invested so it can grow.
City councillor Tom Hayes said: “It is quite clear there is a severe climate crisis and there needs to be the best possible action happening right now.
“The county council’s money in part comes from the people who it serves and a lot of them might be uncomfortable knowing that their money is being invested in things they don’t agree with.”
The Oxfordshire Pension Fund is administered by the county council but it is not actually run by the authority.
County council spokesman Paul Smith said the authority has no powers to invest on ethical grounds only.
He said: “All local authority pension funds have a legal duty to invest in the best financial interest of pension fund employers and beneficiaries.
“The county council does not own the pension fund assets and can’t impose its own social, environmental or ethical views when making investment decisions on behalf of the fund.”
The calls come after campaigners marched through central Oxford calling on Oxford University to stop making similar investments. The university has said it is now consulting on whether it should do so.
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