On Thursday 4 November at 9.45 am climate activists from Divest Notts and Extinction Rebellion gathered at County Hall in West Bridgford.
Using oil drums and banners and supported by the Outlaws Samba Band, they were both inside and outside the meeting creating a noisy and visual protest. The aim was to deliver this message to members of the Pension Fund Committee:
”Keep 1.5 Alive”
The activists’ message to the committee is “We demand clear targets from the Committee to align the Pension Fund with the COP26 goal of limiting global warming to the relatively safe level of 1.5°C.”
A spokesperson said: ‘The Nottinghamshire Local Government Pension Fund has £155m invested in fossil fuel companies. Incredibly, it has NO targets for reducing the carbon footprint of its investments. It is not aligned with limiting global warming to the relatively safe level of 1.5 °C, or anything even close.
‘The fund has a very significant role in the financial lives of local people with 48,000 contributors, 39,000 pensioners and 56,000 deferred beneficiaries.
‘These individuals have no say in the Fund’s operation which is entirely managed by the County Council.
‘This protest is part of an on-going campaign to make the committee sell its fossil fuel investments in order to prevent OUR money being used for further extraction of oil, gas and coal from the earth.
‘Despite government preparations for COP26 that aim to keep the world heating below 1.5°C, the Pension Fund’s own website quotes the earlier 2°C target from Paris in 2015 and is arguing for “the alignment of business models with a 2°C pathway”.
‘This could be an embarrassing oversight, or demonstrative of a disturbing lack of care and responsibility, or both.
‘Eventually financial institutions will be forced by governments to show how they will hit net zero as announced yesterday by the Chancellor.
‘We now know that UK pensions contribute 330 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.’
Therefore protestors say this is urgent and cannot wait.
XR added: ‘Since Monday 19th October when Divest Notts launched its most recent email campaign more than 220 people have written to the Leader of the Council demanding that he keep his promise to make the Fund sustainable and “Keep 1.5° Alive”. Divest Notts invite all Nottinghamshire residents to join this campaign and future protests, because the entire community is potentially affected by the performance of this Fund.
This is for two reasons:
‘1 – The fund is part of a business model that threatens massive disruption to all aspects of human life as tipping points are reached due to global heating.’
‘2 – Local services will be devastated if a disorderly transition away from fossil fuels results in market collapse and significant losses to the Fund. These losses legally have to be covered by the employers using the Fund ie. Local City and District Councils.’
Rachel Adams, who retired from her post as Public Health Manager at the County Council in 2017 and is a Pension beneficiary said:
“I will be at the protest because I fear for the future. The County Council must take this emergency seriously. I ask Ben Bradley how he will live with more forest fires, heat waves and flooding? How will his government deal with migration from countries where no food grows? We must Keep 1.5 Alive. Anything less is terrifying.”
Carl Braithwaite, 53, Former Head Teacher said:
“I support this protest. It is crazy that we are still investing in oil, coal and gas knowing what we know about the climate crisis. These people are supposed to represent us but are playing a part in putting our children’s futures at risk.”
John Balson, 62, Mechanical Engineer said:
“I’m staggered that the Pension Committee is persisting in leaving our money in these toxic investments. I’m absolutely certain that the people of Nottinghamshire would be appalled if they knew their pension fund was propping up the same companies that caused this mess – and were fully aware of what they were doing – when do they get a say about where their money is?”