Camden Unison deputation to pensions committee

Last week John Rutter, Camden Unison’s pensions committee observer, attended a meeting of the Camden pensions committee  and made a deputation. This is his report of the meeting.

Last Thursday I attended Pensions Committee to present the BC Motion of 11/12/18.I was supported by friends from Branch Committee and Camden Divest (which is the local climate change activists group).

In addition to the Motion I made a statement emphasising that we were concerned about the effect of climate change. I stated that then Government was going to consult about new rules. These would enable Pension members views (i.e. yours and mine) to be taken into account when making investment decisions. I said that we would canvas the views of our members and could they do the same with all pension members. I also requested that they divest over a 5 year period.

The 18/12/17 Guardian article about the rule changes is here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/18/boost-for-fossil-fuel-divestment-as-uk-eases-pension-rules

It is important to note that The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) and the London CIV were both present. So although LAPFF’s main aim is engagement, and they seem to do a good job on that front, they are listening to our arguments and can tell their engaged CEO’s that LB Camden Pension Fund is being pushed by its members i.e. us to at move out of oil. Likewise the London CIV will take home this pressure for divestment.

 Karen Shakleton (the Committee’s Independent Adviser) gave me her web page: https://www.pensionsforpurpose.com/our-members.html

I talked with Rishi Madlani (the Chair) after the meeting and he was positive about the influence that the two deputations have had. He thanked us (Camden Unison and Camden Divest) for raising the profile of this issue. We must track the impending new regulations and push the Committee when these come into effect.

Motion

We are all worried about the effect on the climate by our expanding world population. Camden Unison Branch Committee believes that disinvestment is the best way that Camden LGPS can protect its future and we passed the motion now before you.

The government has announced that it is to allow Britain’s £2tn workplace pension schemes to dump their shares in oil, gas and coal companies more easily, empowering them to take investment decisions to fight climate change.

Until now, pension schemes have been hamstrung by “fiduciary duties” that effectively require schemes to seek the best returns irrespective of the threat of climate change. Many have rebuffed calls by members for fossil fuel divestment, citing legal obligations.

But the government is to introduce new investment regulations that will allow pension schemes to “mirror members’ ethical concerns” and “address environmental problems”.

The rules are expected to come into force next year after a consultation period and will bring into effect recommendations made in 2014 and earlier this year by the Law Commission.

We urge the committee to start considering now how these rule changes will enable you to change your investment plans. For example by pulling out of stranded assets you can invest in better performing assets and by doing so you encourage these companies to change their emphasis and develop renewable energy sources.

When the new regulations come into effect Camden Unison will survey its member’s views on this issue. We request that the Committee also canvases the opinion of its Pension Scheme members as well as not all Pension Members are Unison members. Please then act on the views of those members.

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