Swansea Council’s Pension Fund Committee politely stonewalled Climate Change protesters

XR Swansea divestment Pension Fund Committee outside Committee Room at Guildhall 12th-Sept-2019

Swansea Council’s Pension Fund Committee politely stonewalled Climate Change protesters at their meeting on Thursday (12/09/2022). When a campaigner raised his hand to query slow progress in divesting from big oil, mining and tobacco, the verdict was ‘No questions,’

The Pension meeting was chaired by Swansea deputy leader Clive Lloyd who had claimed in letter to campaigners earlier this week that the council had a ‘fiduciary responsibility’ to maximise investment returns and keep council workers’ contributions ‘affordable and sustainable’.

He said the Council was reducing the carbon footprint of its pension portfolio by 50% by 2022 but that might not seem to match what the council has declared to be a ‘climate emergency’. And what we can see for ourselves, at a time when global warming is outstripping most predictions, in the death and destruction of hurricane Dorian and nearer home in impact of chaotic weather on farm production and one of many old upland reservoirs.

Fiduciary fiddlesticks? Retention of shares in Shell, BP, Rio Tinto and British American Tobacco is glossed in Lloyd’s letter as ‘investee engagement…to influence positive company behaviour…helping Shell transform itself to a company fit for a carbon-free future.’ While the Pension fund ‘actively seeks to invest in positive renewable techniques.’

XR Swansea divestment Pension Fund Committee outside Committee Room at Guildhall 12th-Sept-2019

Would it not be simpler and more effective if the pension money to come straight out of the toxic old business and into something cleaner and more sustainable, especially if this can already give good returns, with the prospect of better ones in the future as global markets head that way?

Now that ‘taking back control’ is the order of the day, it could be a good time for council workers. pension contributors and tax-payers to take more responsibility for how our money is spent.

Just as most workers would prefer to do a good job well, most of us would rather see the money we pay out, like it or not, put to good use, not bad. At least to do no harm, especially if we’ve got nothing to lose by it, and everything to gain.

If people feel the Swansea Pension Fund could do better, and the council represent them better, here’s a petition we can sign

Swansea Council Pension Fund must divest from fossil fuels, tobacco and mining ASAP.

Swansea Council Pension Fund must divest from fossil fuels, tobacco and mining ASAP

Sent to all Councillors in Swansea today..

Dear Councillor, please see the attached extract from the ANNUAL REPORT & STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTS 2017/2018: (PAGE 109)


We’d be interested to know if you were already aware of this?
And would you support a motion to move to ethical investments?

We sincerely hope you will respond with immediate and appropriate action.

Kind regards
XR Swansea Divest Action Team

Can Swansea Council really apply for Designation of Swansea Within the World Health Organisation (WHO) European Healthy Cities?

Why does Swansea Council believe they can apply for Designation of Swansea Within the World Health Organisation (WHO) European Healthy Cities Network Phase VII. when their Pension Fund invest £21,363,000 in British American Tobacco and £18,637,000 in Rio Tinto, one of the worlds most environmentally destructive company’s. Surely, this is contra to WHO standards?

XR Swansea @ Green Man Festival 2019

XR Swansea @ Green Man Festival 2019

Wednesday – Here we are at the Green Man Festival in Brecon, South Wales representing Extinction Rebellion.

Lots of hanging around yesterday waiting for the crew to sort out where we are camping for the week. Eventually we set up in the corner of a lovely quiet, lush green field. Maddy’s motor home, Jenny and Flo’s campercar and Johnnys tent.

Last night we had a little wander around this green site, which nestles in the beautiful Brecon hills, watching people busying themselves setting up their pitches and stages.

The trees here are absolutely magnificent. Oaks, hundreds of years old, that would take 15 people to actually hug them! Stupendous!

Today we spent the morning dressing our meagre allotment in the Babblers Bizarre – One 6’ x 2.5’ trestle table, with 2 metres behind. They feel sorry for us, so allocate another table to make an L shape. Me and Jenny then set about decorating the space, Johnny up the ladders attaching bunting to the roof! Flo designing a Snakes and Ladders game.

XR Swansea @ Green Man Festival 2019

We’re very pleased with the result! Inspection at 5.00…. fingers crossed all’s well!

The party kicks off tomorrow …

Council backs People’s & Youth Assemblies on the Climate & Ecological Emergency

XR Swansea - Divest Action - Guildhall - 26 07 2019

A Swansea People’s Assembly at the Guildhall, why not? The idea was put forward by climate change demonstrators, aka Extinction Rebellion XR, in discussion with Swansea councillors on the Guildhall steps last Thursday. Council leader Rob Stewart’s response was simply

‘Yes, we can do that! We’re really keen to see more people involved in decision making processes’.

While deputy Clive Lloyd suggested there might also be space in some other prominent positioned city-centre building for more everyday use to raise awareness of the issues and solutions.

This sort of doors-open meeting of minds could serve us well not only as we try to avert climate collapse but also in dealing with other issues that matter to people across the city and county. More of us would be able make our voices heard, learn from each other and those we elect or pay to serve us. Council decision-making would become more broadly based and the new model could be a small step forward in defence of life on earth as well as a consolidation of democracy where we live.

To their credit, the XR people in Swansea have been doing their homework as well as taking their message onto the streets. If you feel you’ve heard that horror story before, it may just happen to be true. We’ve just had yet another record hottest day. Rail and air services are restored, until the next storm-surge has our name on it.

I’m old enough to remember and sadly miss the first call of cuckoo, first sight of swallows and the nuisance of stopping to wipe dead insects off the windscreen. So it’s odd to note that those who now lead the uphill charge to save the Earth wont even remember what’s already lost.

I’m glad the XR movement in Swansea has a good mix of old and young and the same now goes for Swansea Council which adds its authority to recognition of the Climate Emergency and seems to be moving in the right direction. On Thursday, the XR people were told that £500 million of pension funds had been pulled out of banks that invest heavily in fossil fuels. This is not just a matter for councils although the worst offenders are US-based JP Morgan etc. More familiar here in the UK, high street banks Barclays and HSBC are runners up in the race for new oil and gas. It doesn’t take a council or rocket science to switch bank accounts and there are more creditable alternatives in say Nationwide and Co-op Bank.

View the petition here

Swansea Council says it’s also working to unhitch its pension funds from fossil investments, but this can not be done at the stroke of a pen. The council doesn’t manage its pension funds, if only because a corrupt or cash-strapped council boss might be as tempted as a private company boss to dip into the pension pot. Meanwhile XR has been invited to make a presentation and submit a resolution to help the Pension Fund Board & Committee move things on more quickly.

Louise Gibbard, a Labour councillor elected in 2017 is to head a new Future Generations and Equality committee and promises that this will also press for progress on climate change. As Extinction Rebels and other campaign groups like Friends of the Earth are already aware, planet and people go together. Young have more to lose than old from climate collapse, and the drying out of once-fertile land is decimating some of the poorest on Earth – one reason why refugees seek sanctuary in Swansea.

XR Swansea - Divest Action - Guildhall - 26 07 2019

Written by Greg Wilkinson
West Cross

Pop up protest party

Join us on 3rd August to help build a better future.

It will also be a celebration of the City and County of Swansea declaring a Climate Emergency.

Join the Procession at 12.00 from Toys “R” Us, Park Tawe, Swansea. We will walk up into the town – led by a 10’ walking tree, with our choir singing and our Samba Band playing- not at the same time I hasten to add!

Once in town, there will be 3 local Swansea bands playing, a punk poet performing, face painting, badge making, tshirt printing, free vegan food, workshops for adults and children, an information tent on Extinction Rebellion and the Climate Crisis, Circus Skills, Storytelling and much more….

Wear colourful clothes. Bring placards/ pictures with bees, insects, butterflies, flowers! If you can, bring a plant/ small tree in a pot to green the area.

If the weather forecast is really bad for the Saturday, we will cancel on the Thursday before.

Please come and support and enjoy.

Interview for Swansea Sound / The Wave with Cait Mathews

XR Swansea outside the Guildhall - Divestment Campaign

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m Cait Mathew representing Extinction Rebellion Swansea​. I’m a Human Rights student in London and I live in Swansea outside of term time.

Why are you protesting outside Swansea’s Guildhall?

Climate change is a real threat to the world we live in. The planet is warming up faster than anyone predicted. Even today the weather forecasters have predicted the hottest day EVER recorded!! 

It’s terrible news, but we’re in the middle of the sixth mass extinction! This is not only something for the future generations, we’re experiencing massive species loss, extreme weather events and crop failures right now. 

We all need to do everything we can and that’s why I’m here. I’m trying to take some personal responsibility.

We are in an emergency. The Council has declared a climate emergency and we are now calling for the council to ACT like we are in an emergency!!

Tell us a bit about what you have planned for this protest.

We’ll be speaking to people, getting to know them, handing out fliers, letters, encouraging the Pension Fund Board, Councillors and Officers to sign the online petition and generally having fun!

What do you hope to achieve from this event.

Swansea Council Pension Committee have over £130 million in fossil fuels. They committed to divesting 50% in 4 years but that’s simply NOT FAST ENOUGH! There is very little time to act on this issue.

We’re calling for the Pension Fund Committee to radically speed up it’s divestment process. 

Ideally taking 100% of pension funds out of fossil fuel investments within the next 12 months. It’s an emergency and we know it can be done if the will is there.

Cardiff Council pension Fund have committed to 100% divestment within 5 years. It’s still not enough but its better than Swansea.

Is Swansea Council doing enough to back up its Declaration of a climate emergency?

Absolutely not. They are doing lots of things, don’t get us wrong, but they are certainly not doing enough. It’s like they are currently throwing buckets of water on a house fire. They need to call the fire brigade and switch on the big water hoses and get serious about this!

Hasn’t the council made moves to cut back on fossil fuel investments?

Well, they have made a commitment of 50% over 4 years but its simply not enough. We call for 100% in the next 12 months. Why not? Give us a REALLY good reason why not. There are plenty of other really good investments to be made in renewables and green technologies.

What’s happening outside the Guildhall this morning?

We’re gathering here today to put pressure on the Swansea Council Pensions Board as they have influence over the Pensions Committee. The Pensions Board have a morel duty to call for 100% divestment as soon as physically possible

Why are you back again in the afternoon?

This afternoon is the Full Council meeting and we’ll be encouraging the Councillors to sign the petition and also put forward a motion to divest 100% from fossil fuels within 12 months. We know its possible and they have a duty to do this for all young people in Swansea. 

Swansea Council needs to set a precedent for how to divest quickly. This can then be shared across Wales where we currently have over 1 billion pounds of our pension funds invested on fossil fuels. Its disgraceful and it also means that anyone paying into a pension is supporting the fossil fuel industry and the demise of our society and the planet.

The first demand of Extinction Rebellion is to tell the truth and declare a climate and ecological emergency. 

The second is to Act Now! The Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

Divesting from fossil fuels is a key action to achieving this aim

How can people get engaged and support the campaign?

It would be amazing if any of your listeners today would take a look at this campaign,  especially if they have a pension with Swansea Council themselves. 

The web address is http://xrswansea.org.uk/divest 

Thank you very much

Lobbying Swansea Council Pension Fund Board

Today we lobbied Swansea Council Pension Fund Board to encourage them to put pressure on the Pension Fund Committee to divest their funds far more quickly from fossil fuels.

They have written a Responsible Investment Policy that measures the carbon footprints of all the investments in their portfolio and also committed funds to investments following the “Low Carbon Index” tracker

£500m of assets are being transferred as we speak, some into a Clean Tech Fund, an Infrastructure Fund and alternative fuels.

The Welsh Government are committed to full divestment by 2050 but this is woefully to long a timescale to deal with the emergency that has been declared.

Pension Fund Board and Committee Members are justifying retaining investments in fossil fuel companies on the basis that this enables them to have a seat at the table and a say in how they operate,

Jeffrey Dong, Chief Treasury Officer at City & County of Swansea, pointed out that if you dis-invest fully then you will lose the opportunity to influence the corporations and push for a transformation to low carbon investments.

Is this the best strategy?? Surely divesting fully sends a strong message and will have influence on the corporations. Retaining shares and being a relatively minor voice is a very risky strategy to bring about the changes required in this emergency.

The Pension Fund Forum recently announce success stating that Shell is now committed to carbon reduction targets and the CEO has his pay linked to performance. Read more.

Swansea Council was trustee of the Pension Fund but has now delegated this to the Pension Fund Committee so have no binding control over the committee.

Saying that, we believe a petition followed up by a motion from Swansea Councillors will have a positive effect and put pressure on the Pension Fund Committee to more, much sooner.

XR Swansea are calling for 100% divestment from fossil fuel investments within the next 12 months. Why not??

Nationally across Wales there are 5 Pension Fund Boards and 8 Local Authority Pension Funds (yes it is confusing!). Swansea is keen to make it known that they are ahead of their colleagues but it’s clear that much more can be done to set a precedent. Cardiff Council might have something to say about that. Read more here

There is no commitment from the Wales Pension Partnership to fully divest but a draft policy in place and the members are responding with amendments before it gets voted on and adopted.

XR Swansea on Swansea Sound at 1.37..

We call for 100% Divestment of Pension Funds within 12 months.

Dear Swansea Council Pension Fund Member/Contributor,

Extinction Rebellion congratulate Swansea Council on recently declaring a Climate Emergency. 

However, the investment banks, asset managers and hedge funds Swansea Council use to invest your pension in, also fund fossil fuel projects, and some of these investment vehicles are the worst offenders in funding fossil fuel projects. 

They include JP Morgan, Blackrock, Schroders, Goldman Sachs and Aberdeen Asset Management, see the links below for further information. Therefore, your individual pension contribution is still aiding the funding of fossil fuel projects.

Climate scientists are united on the science behind climate change, and say that we have to reduce CO2, use less fossil fuel and promote environmentally friendly energy. Scientists state a rise of 1.5º Celsius by 2030 could lead to irreversible climate change. This would affect all children alive today.

The Government have already stated that they will end petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. However, the government is under pressure to bring this forward to 2032. 

Swansea Council should take this into consideration now. Should there be an unexpected climatic impact, such as arctic permafrost melting, or some other event causing a rise in sea/air temperature, this date may narrow and will most probably result in less returns from future fossil fuel investments. 

Therefore, members of the Pension Committee, and their professional advisors, need to take this into account now, and move away from fossil fuel investments if they want to maximise profits of Swansea Council’s Pension Fund.

To fully act on the Climate Emergency, Swansea Council needs to move away from all fossil fuel funding investment banks they currently use. 

Swansea Council’s Notice of Motion to Declare a Climate Emergency, (see document in the link below), states a commitment to reduce investments in fossil fuels by 50% within four years. This is not enough.

We call for 100% divestment within 12 months.

Otherwise Swansea Council is just paying lip service to their declaration of declaring a climate emergency. If you support the climate emergency initiated by Swansea Council, and do not want to see all children alive today suffer from climate change, you need to tell the Pension Committee that you do not want your pension contributions funding fossil fuel projects and for them to be moved AWAY from fossil fuel supporting banks. Only you, individually, have the power to do this.

View the petition here

Yours sincerely, XR Swansea – Divestment Team

One Planet Swansea

EXTRACT – In a nutshell: Capacity building to determine which version of a given budget proposal contributes the most – or detracts from – the goal of making Swansea become more regenerative and resilient.

A framework for working over time so that all activities over which Swansea has power & influence combine together to reduce its ecological footprint (which includes carbon and biocapacity) to a measurably sustainable level. The time period is defined.

The main tools are shifts in collective awareness and in how a budget is spent. The objective is to address the combined climate, resource
and extinction emergencies at the same time with win-win-win solutions to create a flagship healthy, successful and resilient city.

One Planet Swansea briefing document

For more info contact David Thorpe through One Planet Life

Divestment with Swansea Council’s Pension Fund Committee

Swansea Council Divestment Campaign - XR Swansea - Extinction Rebellion

Swansea Council’s Pension Fund Committee may not agree to remove fossil fuel investment banks from their portfolio because these investment banks offer good returns. One of the investment banks they use is JP Morgan and Aberdeen Asset Management. However, by the time our current council employees retire, fossil fuel investment may have dried up due to the climate emergency. Therefore, Swansea Council Pension Fund committee needs to move away from fossil fuel investments to more environmentally friendly investments.

Divestment Protest Organised by XR Swansea Outside The Guildhall..

Global banks, led by JP Morgan Chase, invested $1.9 trillion in fossil fuel projects (FFP’s) since the 2016 Paris Climate Pact. The top banks investing heavily in FFP’s are JP Morgan ($196.66 billion), Wells Fargo ($151.60 billion), Bank of America ($106.69). Barclays lay in 6th position with $85.18 billion poured into FFP’s, HSBC with $57.81 billion and RBS funding $4.37 billion into FFP’s all since the 2016 Paris Climate Pact.

Aberdeen Asset Management also fund FFP’s and can be seen in the links below. We need to dry up fossil fuel funding of oil companies as they will continue drilling existing wells and seek new wells to drill and extract fossil fuels which in contra to reducing climate change and global temperature below 1.5º Celsius by 2030. The links below offer further reading.



Oil And Gas Giants Spend Millions Lobbying To Block Climate Change Policies 

Every year, the world’s five largest publicly owned oil and gas companies spend approximately $200 million on lobbying designed to control, delay or block binding climate-motivated policy. Read more…