Richmond Council is the latest authority to announce its pension fund will be going greener in a bid to tackle the climate crisis.
In a meeting on 29 January, the Joint Pensions Committee approved a new policy to decarbonise its investments, in line with the council’s Climate Emergency Strategy Action Plan.
It comes as research from the campaign group Declare A Climate Emergency revealed that 300 councils across the UK have declared a climate emergency to date.
Councillor Nancy Baldwin, Vice-Chair of the Joint Pensions Committee, said: “Our Climate Emergency Strategy outlines our commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral organisation by 2030.
“Achieving this requires looking at every element of the council, including our substantial investment portfolio.
“We have found that aligning the fund with a scenario that aims to decarbonise the global economy and limit global warming is the most advantageous, from an investment perspective.
“This means that we have agreed to shift investments in companies towards those that, for example, provide renewable energy or support technology companies that perform in line with globally-agreed climate change goals.
“Officers have now been instructed to carry out research on the proposals discussed and make recommendations on how investments should be allocated, taking account of the decarbonisation requirements of the fund.”
Richmond Council declared a climate emergency in July 2019, anticipating a risk of tidal flooding as a result of climate change.
It has identified “six areas of focus” to meet its pledge of reducing carbon emissions: the council, its legacy, waste, water, air and nature.
Commenting on the decision to decarbonise investments, a spokesperson for the Richmond and Twickenham branch of Friends of the Earth said: “We are delighted that Richmond and Wandsworth Councils have finally agreed to divest.”
“We have been campaigning on this issue for decades and Richmond Council has previously refused to even discuss it with us.
“It is vital that everyone ensures that their pension funds are not funding climate chaos and the destruction of nature.
“However, the council is still only looking at their own operations in terms of their impact on the climate. They should encourage local businesses to do the same.”
Richmond Council and Wandsworth Council operate a joint pension fund following a decision in 2016 to combine the two sets of employees into a shared staffing arrangement (SSA) with a single workforce for the two councils.