“We do not play politics with pensions” said Cllr Susan Carey (pictured) at full council on Wednesday 22nd February. Cllr Carey was responding to a question put by our public face which was asking for the Shepway District Council (SDC) pension deficit total; which turns out to be £23.6 million. SDC’s pension fund is managed by Kent Pension Fund (KPF)and their Investment advisers are Hymans Robertson who seek out the best returns on KPF’s investments. Cllr Carey as a KCC Cllr and our ex failed double glazing salesman Cllr David “Drury” Monk are both board members of the local-pension-board (pg 4/5) and attend two meetings a year. (A excel spreadsheet of all KPF’s investments is attached at the bottom of the piece)
KPF invest SDC’s employees’ pension contribution and the same for other Kent Councils as well. The pension fund has invested around £200 million into fossil-fuel-investments. The investments are with such companies as Apache Corp, Shell , Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Rolls Royce, British American Tobacco, Carlsberg and Lockheed Martin to give you a flavour of KPF’s extensive investments. How do the workforce, who pay into the pension pot feel about KPF’s investing into known polluters, bribers and arms manufacturers?
(below are examples of KPF investments which total £4.495 billion)
The Fossil Fuel Investments lead to pollution, air pollution and ultimately climate change. The UK Government recently lost a high court battle with Client Earth over air pollution. On the 2 December 2016, ClientEarth published a legal opinion from two UK barristers, including a leading pensions QC, confirming that pension funds that fail to consider climate risk could be exposing themselves to legal challenge.
The opinion (by Keith Bryant QC and barrister James Rickards) explores “trustees’ obligations under common and statutory law and concludes that where climate risks carry material financial implications for fund performance, trustees must take those risks into account in their investment decisions. The authors make clear that this is “beyond reasonable argument” and that failing to do this “would not be proper exercise” of trustees powers.”
There is now abundant evidence available to demonstrate that climate change is a financially material risk for pension funds. BlackRock, the Economist Intelligence Unit, leading investment consultants Mercer, the FSB, the Bank of England and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership have all recently put out papers warning of the financial risks of climate change, including the risks to pension funds. Trustees must consider this evidence. Those who ignore it are leaving themselves open to legal challenge.
So is it a wise idea that KPF invest into fossil fuel investments when they are potentially leaving themselves open to a legal challenge? We think not, and believe they ought to sell their investments in fossil fuel companies and invest in climate friendly stocks/equities.
The air which we breathe, is important to us, as is the planet we live on. Knowing that KPF are investing into fossil fuels along with many other pension investment schemes; which pollute the air which we breathe and our environment, for the sake of making a buck for SDC CEO Alistair’s stewart’s £13,811 pension investments (2015/16), makes the air which we breathe difficult to swallow.
The UK Government recently lost a High Court Case over its failure to tackle air pollution. The Judge handed down a damning indictment of ministers’ inaction on killer air pollution
What with KPF’s investments into know fossil fuel companies and the companies record on air pollution, pollution, bribery etc, perhaps Cllr Carey ought to realise it is time from KPF to divest its £200 million pound fossil fuel investments, as fines and laws suits hit investors, i.e. employees of SDC and their pension contribution. Cllr Carey & ex failed double glazing salesman Cllr David “Drury” Monk are board members of the Local Pension Board, perhaps it is time to “play politics with pensions”, so that we can all breathe a little more easily. Divesting the fossil fuel investments would avoid any potential legal challenge, which may well cost KPF and its pension contributors a lot of money. Or do Cllr Carey & Monk put profit ahead of Shepway/UK residents health at any cost? We’ll leave you to decide that.