Data has revealed that £340 million from council pensions in Lancashire has been invested into fossil fuel industries despite global pressure to curtail the impacts of climate change.
With council pensions funding a £16.1 billion total investment in coal, oil, and gas extraction by councils across the UK, new figures have revealed that Lancashire invests 2.1% of that £16.1 billion - amounting to £340 million - itself in the form of 4.8% of its pension funds.
While the statistics do not represent a significant change on 2015 investments, the ratification of the 2016 Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the a global temperature rise during the 21st Century below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, suggests such continued investment is counter-productive.
“Our pensions are investing in the companies responsible for the climate crisis," said Jane Thewlis, a divestment campaigner. "This flies in the face of the Paris Agreement, and of all the efforts being made locally to reduce emissions and combat climate change. It’s time to divest.”
The data and online map released by 350.org, Platform, Energy Democracy Project, and Friends of the Earth ranks councils by their fossil fuel investments and allows residents to see every company or fund their local council has invested into.
Several local authorities already committed to divest their pensions from fossil fuels, with Lancashire County Council having invested £12 million into Westmill Solar Co-operative, a community owned solar farm, while in June, Unison - the largest trade union representing local government workers in the country - passed policy to “seek divestment of Local Government Pension Schemes from fossil fuels."
Unison's conference statement read: “By divesting the £14 billion currently invested in fossil fuels, local councils can take an important step forwards in challenging climate change.
"Reinvesting this money into renewables, housing and public transport is a feasible and sensible strategy for providing a long term return and building safe pensions for public sector workers,” it added.