UK - Public sector pension scheme members have been warned to further interrogate fund managers over their voting activity in the campaign against sand tar excavation work by energy majors Shell and BP.

Unison, the UK's largest public sector union, said members must question fund managers and ensure they have voted in favour of resolutions which would force energy firms to report on their management of environmental and social risks created by specific oil exploration activity.

In a response to scheme representatives drafted on behalf of members who were told fund managers will carry out shareholder governance, Unison said: "I note that you consider that you have fulfilled this [governance] duty through the delegation of all voting decisions to your fund managers. I trust that you will make specific enquiries of the fund manager as to how they intend to vote on the resolutions and their reasons for so doing, and then make such information available directly to scheme members."

Unison said members must demand fund managers disclose how they have voted on the resolutions, adding that such activity was critical to preserving the future security of public sector pension funds.

"There is an obligation to consider environmental social and governance (ESG) issues which may have an impact on the long-term value of the pension fund's investment portfolio. There is a risk that Canadian oil sands may have such an impact and it is for this reason that I requested my pension fund support the resolutions' call for greater disclosure regarding those risks.

"I would like to be notified how our fund managers respond to the request for information on these resolutions and I would hope that you will make them aware of members' expressed preferences." the letter stated.

Unison's involvement in the BP/Shell tar sands campaign has been driven by a FairPensions' initative which has also led to MPs demanding that their own parliamentary pension scheme votes in favour of the resolutions. (See earlier IPE article: UK MPs seek a pension stand on tar sands resolution)

Additionally, the global campaign has resulted in action from Dutch pension managers APG, PGGM and Mn Services, who are engaging directly with BP and Shell. (See earlier IPE article: Dutch asset managers engage with Shell over tar sands)