Kirklees Council urges pension fund against fossil fuel investments

Kirklees Council will be calling on the West Yorkshire Pension Fund (WYPF) to stop investing in companies that produce fossil fuels.

Cllr Paul Davies, Kirklees Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources, made the pledge at last night’s (13 October 2021) meeting of all councillors in response to a question. Cllr Davies said as one of the trustees of the pension scheme, the council will urge the fund to stop investing in companies producing fossil fuels and move its current investments into environmentally friendly businesses.

Councillor Davies will be formally notifying WYPF of Kirklees Council’s position, which will request the fund to make these changes within the next three years.

 

Councillor Davies said: “The world faces a climate emergency, and we must do all we can as local leaders to make the changes we need to tackle this.

“We are one of the biggest employers to be part of the WYPF and it doesn’t sit right with us that our staff’s pension contributions are being invested in companies that have a negative impact on our environment and harm our ambitions of a carbon neutral Kirklees by 2038.

“The fund has an excellent track record when it comes to investing in the right companies to ensure our staff have the pension they deserve when retirement comes. However, we know our staff want this to be done in the right way.

“That’s why we’ll be urging WYPF to divest from investing in companies which produce fossil fuels and move any current investments in such companies elsewhere.”

 

Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said: “This is the right stance to take. We all have a role to play in tackling the climate emergency.

“As a council we’re investing heavily in greener forms of transport, tree planting and much more in our efforts to make a positive change so we can reach our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2038.

“The WYPF is an excellent scheme, but investing in fossil fuel producing companies is not something we support as it counteracts our commitment to tackling the climate emergency. Successful investments that provide our staff with the pension they deserve don’t have to have a negative impact on the environment.”

 

Councillor Will Simpson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, said:

“Our vision and our commitment is to make Kirklees completely carbon neutral by 2038. So far we have exceeded our targets on carbon reduction, but there is much more to do to meet our ambitions.

“We can already see the impacts of global warming and air pollution every day. Kirklees Council has a duty to lead and that is precisely what we’re doing.

“We’ve invested £1million in charging points for electric vehicles and offer free parking for electric and low emission vehicles. We’ve made a £1million investment in our own fleet to convert to electric and low emission equivalents. Last year staff and volunteers planted over 35,000 trees across Kirklees, and we will plant another 70,000 in the borough in the next 12 months alone.

“These are just some of the many steps that we are taking at the moment with many more to come and we want to encourage the Pension Fund to join us in embracing an ambitious target for the climate.”