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Waltham Forest PF becomes first LGPS fund to divest fossil fuels

The Waltham Forest Pension Fund has become the first of the UK’s Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) to decide to divest from all fossil fuels.

Simon Miller, chair of the pension fund committee, said: “Waltham Forest Pension Fund is proud to commit to divesting from fossil fuels.

“Not only does this mean the fund will not be invested in stranded assets but will be actively investing in cleaner, greener investments to the benefit of our community, borough and environment.”

The London pension fund has assets of £735m (€851m) and invests £23.9m in the oil and gas industries, according to US-registered climate campaign group 350.

A recommendation at last night’s pension fund committee meeting in the north east London borough was approved, stating that the pension fund would “exclude fossil fuels from its strategy over the next five years”.

Rob Platts of the local divestment campaign being run by Friends of the Earth Waltham Forest said: “With this decision, Waltham Forest has tonight shown true leadership.

“By divesting from fossil fuels, the fund is not only taking necessary action to protect fund members’ pensions from risky investments, but it is also joining hundreds of public institutions worldwide in taking a stand against an industry that is causing climate chaos and endangering our future.”

International divestment campaign group Fossil Free published data a year ago showing UK LGPS invest more than £14bn in the fossil fuel industry.

In July 2015, the London Assembly recommended that the London Pensions Fund Authority (LPFA) change fossil fuel investments to more responsible positions.

But, before now, no LGPS pension fund had actually committed to divesting from fossil fuel industries.

In Edinburgh, the Lothian Pension Fund rejected calls from its council to divest from the sector, saying the cost of such action would be too high.

In January this year, however, Haringey Local Government Pension Fund announced it would shift one-third of its equity funds – equating to about £200m – into the MSCI World Low Carbon Target Index Fund, run by LGIM.

In June 2015, the Environment Agency Pension Fund committed £280m to the same fund.

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