After proposals put forward by York’s Liberal Democrat councillors to call on the York and North Yorkshire Pension Fund to invest £120 million in green infrastructure were approved by Full Council in March, senior officers have lobbied on behalf of the city’s councillors.
More and more pension funds are divesting from fossil fuels both in the UK and across the world. Globally $14.56 trillion is now committed to divestment. It is clear that pension funds across the UK and around the world no longer view fossil fuel production as a wise or a long term investment.
The York and North Yorkshire Pension fund (NYPF) still has holdings in fossil fuels, thought to be around £33 million in total. Active work is ongoing work to ensure that support for the fossil fuel industry is withdrawn and the future pensions of local government workers are safeguarded.
On 5th March 2021 NYPF signed up to a new strategy, which would see the reduction of the fund’s holdings in equities from 57% to 50%, and the creation of a new investment portfolio in infrastructure (10% or £450 million of the total fund). The fund’s new strategy commits to investing £200 million in infrastructure this year.
Investment in green infrastructure is one of the keys to transition to and a zero carbon future and the creation of green jobs in York and the region. This is why City of York council having received cross-party backing, has called on the York and North Yorkshire Pension Fund to commit to invest £120 million of the infrastructure portfolio in green infrastructure, to be split equally between the region, the UK, and global projects.
Councillor Christian Vassie, Liberal Democrat Councillor and the Chair of the Climate Change Committee, commented:
“After being appointed to the York and North Yorkshire Pension Fund last summer, I have used every opportunity to encourage the fund to divest away from fossil fuels. The fight is ongoing but I am glad to see a change in the Fund’s strategy.
“It isn’t just about divesting away from fossil fuels, it is also about what we should invest in, to protect people’s pensions and to help deliver an environmentally sustainable future. In the face of extraordinary economic challenges ahead, we need to create an economy that places sustainability, equity and fairness at the heart of it.
“Mobilising the money we move out of fossil fuels into useful investments in the local economy plays a key part in this. This is why the Council is calling for the Fund to commit to invest in green infrastructure to aid our efforts to build a more sustainable future for York and the region.”