Tackling climate change, and the threat it poses to both the planet and our children’s future, is one of the key challenges facing us today. Lambeth Labour has a long and proud track record of leading the way in fighting climate change; with our commitment to cleaner buses, bike storage lockers, and electric vehicle charging points.
Yesterday Lambeth’s pension fund took an important step towards becoming the first pension fund in the country to fully divest its entire share portfolio from carbon intensive fossil fuel assets. We already had a robust environmental investment policy thanks to the last administration and its commitment to this issue, but today we have gone a step further.
In Lambeth Labour’s 2018 manifesto we pledged to work towards divesting from fossil fuels, and invest our pension fund in a socially and financially responsible way. This was particularly thanks the tireless campaigning of my fellow Labour councillors and lobbying from local groups such as the Advocacy Academy.
Today, just a few months after we made that manifesto promise, we have clearly set out how we will implement it.
Firstly, pensions committee has unanimously agreed to sell over £200m of global equities investments and reinvest the money in a low carbon alternative. Several suitable alternatives have been identified – council officers have been asked to research them in more detail and a final decision as to where the money will be reinvested will be made at the next pensions committee meeting.
Secondly, pensions committee has unanimously agreed in principle to sell down its remaining global equities investments and reinvest the proceeds as soon as a suitable alternative becomes available within the London Pension Collective Investment Vehicle framework (the collective pensions body for London councils). Several suitable alternatives have been identified, and we will lobby the London CIV to include them or similar funds within its framework.
Finally, pensions committee has unanimously agreed in principle to sell down its remaining equity investments (these are in emerging markets), and reinvest the proceeds as soon as a suitable alternative becomes available within the London CIV framework. A suitable alternative has been identified, and we will lobby the London CIV to include it or a similar fund within its framework.
We believe this is the first time any UK local government pension fund has set out a clear roadmap, within its existing actuarial framework, that will allow it to fully divest all its shares and reinvest in low carbon alternatives. Crucially we are able to do this while fully protecting Lambeth council pensioners, current and future.
Lambeth is leading the way on the divestment agenda, with a clear plan to achieve our manifesto promise. Many pension funds now have policy in favour of divesting from carbon intensive fossil fuel shares, but we believe we are the first to set out exactly how we will do this. We will now focus on lobbying the London CIV to include at the earliest opportunity the funds that will allow us to complete our divestment process.
When it comes to action on climate change Lambeth walks the walk, we don’t just talk the talk. This is what happens when Labour is delivering in power rather than shouting on the sidelines like our opponents. I’m grateful to my fellow committee members and councillors who have lobbied on this issue for helping to make this a reality.
Councillor Iain Simpson, Chair of Lambeth Pensions Committee