What we want: Climate-friendly Pensions, when we want them: NOW!
A growing number of people in Dorset and across the South West understand that continued investment in fossil fuels is bad for our planet, bad for our health, bad for our future and bad for our bank account. So, why does the Dorset County Pension Fund committee continue to put money into the world's worst polluters?
The Committee stated in Sept 2020 that £60 million of Dorset Pension Fund is directly invested in fossil fuels, but a recent report calculated the total investment to be £128 million (see the full picture here, enter Dorset). The Pension Fund has committed to reducing by 7% each year….that's too slow.
Campaigners have been pressing Dorset Council to act with more urgency and align the pension fund with their declared climate & ecological emergency since Sept 2019. Below is a brief summary of the efforts so far, bringing you right up to date with this campaign.
Dorset County Pension Fund (DCPF) covers fund members from both Dorset Council (DC) and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP). The Fund is administered by Dorset Council, and has has reps from both Councils, it is currently Chaired by Cllr Andy Canning from DC.
The fund is managed by Brunel Pension Partnership, on behalf of Dorset, 8 other local authorities and the Environment Agency, forming a sort of pension buyers club.
Dorset Action on Pensions campaign story so far...
- Sept 2019 first time members of the the public attend a Pension Committee meeting. MEDACT turned up to ask awkward questions about fossil fuel divestment. See Dorset Echo article: Call for fossil-fuels to be cut from £3billion pension fund
- March 2020 protestors greet Pension Committee reps and Cllr Andy Canning (Chair) on the steps of County Call, calling for fossil-free pensions. A delegation of campaigners led by Irene Stratham attend the committee meeting (Brunel Pension Partnership also present) and ask even more awkward questions about fossil fuel divestment, sparking debate, putting the climate & ecological emergency firmly on the agenda! Read all about it: Campaigners call on council to stop investing in fossil fuels and you can access the questions and answers here
- July 2020 the South West Action on Pensions (SWAP) campaign group is launched, with reps from all 9 local authorities in the Brunel buyers club. Shropshire County Council vote to divest from fossil fuels, setting a positive example, giving hope that Dorset can and will follow their lead.
- August 2020 about 30 people from a wide spectrum of local groups attend a post-lockdown (covid-compliant) protest at Dorset Council offices. On the same day events also across Somerset and in Gloucestershire to keep reminding the Pension Fund Committees of their dirty dealings and the need to divest! Check out Dorset and Somerset events.
- September 2020 first virtual Pension Committee, but public participation effectively silenced; questions submitted by the public not read out nor answered in the meeting, but they can be accessed here. The Committee has chance to vote to divest from fossil fuels, but chooses a much softer long-term decarbonisation approach, persuaded by Brunel and other financial advisors. You can read the long-winded version here.
- October 2020 SWAP writes to Brunel introducing the group and its aims, and asks Brunel for a meeting to discuss their Climate Change Policy. The letter signed by reps from all 9 local authorities in the partnership. The response received indicates Brunel have not understood the strength of this campaign or the urgency.
- November 2020 sadly Cllr Felicity Rice (Independent) from BCP and the only rep on the Pension Fund Committee to truly stand up and push for fossil fuel divestment, is replaced with Cllr Bobbie Dove (Conservative).
- February 2021 Divest UK publish an in-depth report on local authority pension investments, written by Friends of the Earth (FoE) and Platform. The report 'Divesting to protect our pensions and the planet' cites Dorset Pension Fund as one of the worst for continued investment in fossil fuel. Cllr Andy Canning provides response in The Guardian article that highlighting the concerns.
- March 2021 Dorset Action on Pensions calls for Pension Fund members to write to the Committee Chair and Brunel expressing concern and requesting their money is removed from climate-damaging, air-polluting, wildlife-reducing, future-limiting fossil fuels. PLEASE JOIN THE CAMPAIGN!
ACT NOW! Calling all Dorset Pension Fund Members
Want a clean, fossil-free pension?
Tell Dorset Pension Fund to divest your money from fossil fuels, and invest in climate-friendly alternatives.
Please write to Dorset Pension Fund Committee Chair Cllr Andy Canning and explain why you want the committee to stop funding the planet's worst polluters. It is your money and the committee will listen if enough members call for change.
By post: Cllr Andy Canning (Chair), Dorset Pension Fund Committee, 11 Alfred Rd, Dorchester DT1 2DW
cc Brunel Pension Partnership: Faith.Ward@brunelpp.org
Tweet: @BrunelPP #FossilFree and let them know you want a clean green pension.
Dorset Healthcare workers say divest now!
MEDACT are a network of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and students working hard to accelerate the transition to clean energy that is urgently needed to avert catastrophic climate change.
"Climate change is affecting the health of both people and the planet right now. It will affect the most fundamental determinants of health: water, food, air and which infectious diseases we are exposed to."
They say we need to divest from fossil fuels.