Open letter to Pension Fund Committee

Open letter to Nottinghamshire Pension Fund: Invest to enhance well-being

Dear Committee Members,

We are writing on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Nottingham’s fossil fuel divestment campaign. We would like to begin by expressing our very strong hope that all of you and your families are well.

The Covid-19 pandemic is causing very great suffering and hardship in the UK and globally. We know it has created many issues for pension funds due to stock market falls. We would like to thank Committee members and County Council Officers for your stewardship of the Fund in this very difficult time.

Alongside urgent pandemic concerns and priorities, the climate and ecological emergency continues to advance. While environmental damage and extreme weather events have mostly been absent from mainstream media recently, they continue around the world.

The climate and ecological emergency represents an even more fundamental and enduring crisis than the current pandemic. It is a global disaster in slow motion, which has already begun, but which can – with the right decisions made now – be halted.

We are seeing in the response to the Covid-19 crisis at government, corporate and community levels that we value life and well-being above all else, and that action will be taken to protect it.

The Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Dr Fatih Birol, has called for government stimulus spending in response to Covid-19 to address the climate emergency by focusing on clean energy, energy efficiency and electricity network improvements[1].

We call on the Pension Fund to play its part in addressing the emergency, protect life and enhance well-being by increasing equity investments in companies working in these areas.

We applaud your investments in green infrastructure to date, and ask that they also be increased to enhance renewable energy generation, transmission and storage.

Equally, divesting from fossil fuel companies which are every day making the emergency more severe would be a positive step in itself and free up extra capital for sustainable investments.

This makes investment sense. Clean energy and its associated industries represent predictable returns and massive future growth.

By contrast, the fossil fuel industry is in long-term decline. This decline will be characterised by ongoing volatility affecting oil, gas and share prices as demand shrinks and producing nations and companies compete to out-supply each other. Any short-term cooperation between producer nations will inevitably break when individual countries decide it is time to ‘cash-out’ while a market still exists.

We are delighted to hear that Legal & General Investment Management has announced the creation of a fossil free fund, in response to client demand. We know that Nottinghamshire Pension Fund aspires to be at the forefront of responsible investment, and accordingly expect that the approximately £1.5bn under LGIM management will be moved into the new fund when it is launched. We hope that the Committee will be discussing this as soon meetings are able to resume.

Many thanks for your time and your ongoing work.

Yours sincerely,

Members of the Divestment Working Group

Extinction Rebellion Nottingham