County council urged to end fossil fuel investments from pension fund

Campaigners gather at Shire Hall in Cambridge on December 11.

Campaigners gather at Shire Hall in Cambridge on December 11. - Credit: DEREK LANGLEY

Campaigners are calling for Cambridgeshire County Council to end investments in fossil fuels through pension funds. 

Seven questions were submitted at the county council's pension fund committee on Monday (December 13), all questioning its continued investment. 

It followed a protest outside of Shire Hall on Saturday (December 11), where members of local environment groups joined forces to raise awareness. 

Campaigners gather at Shire Hall in Cambridge on December 11.

Campaigners gather at Shire Hall in Cambridge on December 11. - Credit: DEREK LANGLEY

Currently the pension fund holds more than £57m in direct investments in fossil fuels. 

The groups in attendance at the protest were calling on the committee to commit to full divestment from companies associated with the extraction of coal, oil and gas. 

Lara Davenport-Ray, who represents Huntingdonshire Green Party in St Neots, spoke at the meeting on Monday. 

Campaigners gather at Shire Hall in Cambridge on December 11.

Campaigners gather at Shire Hall in Cambridge on December 11. - Credit: DEREK LANGLEY

On behalf of climate groups across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Lara asked: "On November 24, the combined authority board resolved to implement the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Climate.  

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“The Climate Commission’s second recommendation states that climate change assessments should be undertaken for all decisions. The management of combined authority staff pensions is overseen by this committee. 

“Given the combined authority board’s resolution to reduce the creation of carbon emissions, how can continued investment in fossil fuels, on behalf of combined authority employees, be acceptable?" 

In response to the questions, the county council’s head of pensions, Mark Whitby said they were looking at policies that are “suitably ambitious” and would lead to “significant decarbonisation” of the pension fund. 

Speaking to The Hunts Post before the meeting, Lara said: “I don’t think the issue is something that many people are aware of. 

“We have a climate emergency and we need to do something, and by the county council continuing to invest in this then there is a disconnect. 

“There are more sustainable investors.” 

Campaigners gather at Shire Hall in Cambridge on December 11.

Campaigners gather at Shire Hall in Cambridge on December 11. - Credit: DEREK LANGLEY

Cllr Lucy Nethsinga, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "The new joint administration at the county council has tackling climate change as a core of our policy agenda, and we are doing all we can to bring our net zero targets forward as quickly as we can.   

“This does include tightening up our policies on the pensions fund investments.”