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LibDem councillors ask Aylesbury Vale District Council about divesting from fossil fuels

October 16, 2014 9:10 PM

(Some background: over the past year a growing number of private and public bodies have announced that they are to stop investing in fossil fuels, such as oil and gas. They range from the British Medical Association and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, to Glasgow University and, most recently, the Swedish city of Örebro.)

This question was submitted by councillors Lambert and Mrs Davies to the leader of the council (Cllr Neil Blake), October 15, 2014.

"in June this year the BMA voted to stop investing in fossil fuels (oil and gas) on the grounds that their use is a major contributor to ill-health. In September the Rockefeller Bros fund, founded on oil, also made the decision to stop investing in fossil fuels and reinvest in renewables, as continuing use of oil and gas is contributing to climate change.

"Can the leader inform the council if any effort has been made to establish how much in Council reserves and pension funds is invested in oil and gas companies, and what consideration, if any, has been given to divestment on the grounds given by the BMA and B Rockefeller Bros fund.'

Response (by Cllr Neil Blake):

"The council's surplus cash balances are invested only in banks, building societies and other local authorities in accordance with its Treasury Management Strategy. None of this was directly invested in the oil or gas industry.

For Aylesbury Vale District Council the administering authority for its pension fund is Bucks County Council.

The Pension Fund committee oversees the management of the fund whilst the day-to-day fund administration is undertaken by a team within the Administration Authority.

Based on the accounts for the Pension Fund as at 31st March, 2014, Aylesbury Vale District Council's share of the fund's investments was approximately 5%, equating to £94 million. This makes the total value of the fund's investments nearly £1.9 billion.

The amount of this invested with organisations associated with the oil and gas industry stood at £63 million as at 31 March 2014. This equates to approximately 3% of the fund's total investment. This was held in equities and bonds.

Upon request the Pension Fund Administrator confirmed that the Pension Fund committee has not given any consideration to the disinvestment in oil and gas companies on the grounds given by the BMA and the Rockefeller Brothers' fund.

However it was emphasised that the Pension Fund Committee take their environmental, social and investment responsibilities seriously...

Given this question, I will write to the District Council representative on the Pension Fund Committee and ask that he raises the matter at the next Pension Fund Committee meeting."