Council ‘hypocrisy’ claim over fossil fuel investments

Enfield Council cabinet members celebrate declaring a 'climate emergency'
Enfield Council cabinet members celebrate declaring a ‘climate emergency’ in July 2019

New figures show local authority still investing millions in fossil fuel firms via its pension fund, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Campaigners have accused Enfield Council of “mind-blowing hypocrisy” over £30million-worth of investments tied up in fossil fuels – despite declaring a climate emergency.

Environmental group Divest Enfield called for a “clear timeline” for the council to end all fossil fuel investments – and warned failing to do so could harm its reputation and finances.

Figures published this week by Friends of the Earth and Platform London reveal that 2.6% of the council’s pension fund holdings have been placed with firms linked to fossil fuel extraction, including ExonnMobil, BP and Shell.

The £30m total is well below the average for UK councils, which is just over £100m, but it comes less than two years after the council declared a ‘climate emergency’ and pledged to “divest the council from investment in fossil fuel companies”.

Adam McGibbon from Divest Enfield said: “It is staggering that nearly two years after declaring a climate emergency, Enfield Council is investing its pension fund in companies who are actively making the climate emergency worse.

“The hypocrisy is mind-blowing – saying they care about climate change, while investing the council’s pension pot into polluting and increasingly risky fossil fuel investments.”

Enfield Council declared a climate emergency in July 2019, pledging to slash its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. The council’s climate action plan, published last year, includes a commitment to “achieve 100% divestment of fossil fuels from all council pension funds” by March 2025.

Adam claimed the pension policy and investment committee had yet to act on the divestment pledge to ensure it is binding. He added: “The council’s pension committee is asleep at the wheel, with financial risk mounting for the pension fund.

“The committee must publish a clear timeline to end all fossil fuel investments or continue to incur reputational risk and place the financial consequences on its pension fund stakeholders.”

The top ten fossil fuel-linked firms the council’s pension fund invests in are ExonnMobil, BHP, Mitsubishi, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsui, ConocoPhillips, BP, Sumitomo, and Anglo American. The figures published in the report were obtained via Freedom of Information requests submitted to councils and are based on the 2019-20 financial year.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “A number of actions are being taken in response to the council’s climate change commitment. An assessment of the carbon impact of all of its investments is underway, to significantly help reduce its carbon footprint during the next five years.

“The pension fund will invest up to 10% of its fund directly into renewable and sustainable energy. Furthermore, the transfer of up to £190million of passive equity investments into a low-carbon fund is being progressed. The council’s exposure to fossil fuels is already low, however, this is estimated to reduce carbon emissions further.

“The investment strategy will meet the council’s obligations to pension fund members and its responsibility to the environment.”