For its 135,000 investors it is good news, so is it for the rest of us. Kent County Council’s Pension Fund is slowly but surely divesting pension assets from companies who contribute towards death and destruction of the planet. KCC’s Pension fund has grown from £2.5 billion in 2006/07, to £6.4 billion in 2018/19, a staggering 156% increase in 13 years. The line graph below (interactive) shows their net assets at year end between 2006/07 and 2018/19.
It’s working, slowly but surely it’s working. Kent County Council Pension Fund have divested pension assets from BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. So people who invest into this fund no longer contribute towards the making of weapons used across the world to maim and kill. It’s a small step, but an important one. They to no longer hold shares in Amazon, Facebook and have substantially reduced their holdings in Royal Dutch Shell from £76 million to £6.4 million. KCC have heavily divested from petrochemical and mining companies between 2017 and 2019. The Pension fund though still invests into companies such as Lukoil, Petrobras and Glencore who along with other companies contribute to climate and ecological change. However it is encouraging they have all signed up to Climate Action 100+.
In a comment from KCC Cllr Martin Whybrow (Green) (pictured), who has long campaigned for divestment from fossil fuels for both the Kent pension fund and KCC’s own direct investments, has said
“Councils, public investors (including Norway’s £750 billion pension fund, considered the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund), private investors, charities and NGOs, churches, educational institutions, the UK’s Environment Agency and ever more others are committing to divestment and it is long overdue that KCC did the same.”
Divestment is a practical, legal and responsible way for pension funds to respond to climate change by making an example of the climate change’s worst offenders: fossil fuels companies.
It appears the calls for the Pension Fund to divest from companies, who damage our planet and contribute towards climate and ecological change, has not fallen on deaf ears.
However, it is disappointing that KCC’s Pension Fund still invests into Reynolds American a subsidiary of British American Tobacco. We also see they continue investing in Imperial Tobacco. These two companies are the second and third largest tobacco companies in the world, who between them had net sales of $46.1 billion dollars in 2018. It seems somewhat contradictory message from KCC to say it is fine to invest in Tobacco companies when KCC want people to quit.
We note that KCC have investments in Pzifers , who make life saving drugs and Viagra, a wise choice of investment? They invest into Colgate – Palmolive, who make toothpaste and shower/bath gels, a sensible investment it would appear.
The investment portfolio shows an increasing trend of investment into property around the UK, such as Wardour Street Soho, Trafford Park Manchester and Walkergate Durham to name a few sites where the fund has invested.
However, the Pension Fund continue to invest offshore in Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands. We understand they are obliged to fund the best returns to their pension fund investors, but we do believe they could invest onshore and get just as good a return.
If you spot anything of interest in the Pension Investments KCC have do let us know by contacting us at shepwayvox [at] riseup[dot]net.
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime
Main Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland/Trócaire/350.org