Climate change is an issue that will have an impact on all of us, now and for future generations.
One way that we can make a practical difference is in thinking about where our money is invested – specifically where our pension schemes invest their funds on our behalf.
UNISON members in England and Wales can make a difference by campaigning through their branches for their local government pension scheme (LGPS) pension fund to pull out of all investments in fossil fuels, commonly known as divestment.
A new UNISON report shows that the rate of divestment away from investing in fossil fuels is still far too slow.
According to UNISON national pensions officer Colin Meech, the 88 LGPS investment funds hold over £280 billion worth of assets: “How this money is invested and how such issues as climate change are addressed will have an impact on the ability of the system to support pension payments in the future,” he explains.
But what progress have the LGPS funds made on this so far? “Not very much and the pace of change is too slow,” observes Mr Meech. “We know this from our new research.
“We’ve produced a new report – Responsible Investment in LGPS – on the state of play overall and by each of your pension funds.”
Findings from the report include:
- climate change has been recognised as a material risk by 29 (32%) funds
- 10 (11%) funds referenced reducing exposure to fossil fuel investments in response to the risk associated with climate change
- 19 (21%) funds specifically outlined approaches to investing in low carbon alternatives.
There is still much to do.