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.’
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