Labour City Councillor Richard Robertson, a trustee of the fund, made the proposal, which did not receive supportArdfern/WIKIMEDIACOMMONS

Trustees of the Cambridgeshire Pension Fund (CPF) have rejected proposals to divest the fund from fossil fuel companies.

Labour City Councillor, Richard Robertson, who is also trustee of the fund, made the proposal at a recent trustee meeting (25/03). No other trustees showed support for the proposal.

The CPF currently has £57 million invested in fossil fuel companies- 1.7 percent of its £3.3 billion investment portfolio.

Councillor Richard Robertson told Cambridge Independent: “At the March meeting of the trustees I proposed that the fund should divest from investment in fossil fuel companies with effect as soon as possible. As the agenda included a review and restatement of the fund’s Responsible Investment strategy, I also proposed that the policy should include divestment from fossil fuel companies.”

“However none of the other trustees would support either of my proposals so it fell”, he added. “It was apparent that the trustees felt that engagement with oil and coal companies would be more effective than divestment.”

27,800 active members from across the region pay into the fund, including staff at Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council and five district councils in the county, including Cambridge, South Cambs, East Cambs, Fenland and Huntingdonshire. 330 other employers also have staff in the scheme.

The rejection of the proposal is in opposition to previous decisions by Cambridge City Council to tackle climate change. The Council, which is not currently invested in fossil fuel companies, published a ’Budget Setting Report’ in January this year, which included several proposals to “help the council meet its objectives” in the Cambridge Air Quality Action Plan 2018-22. This included the creation of a ring-fenced ‘green investment’ reserve.

The reluctance to divestment came despite Councillor Robertson highlighting that “divestment was increasingly being chosen by trustees of funds, including some very large funds such as the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, NEST, and recently Trinity College Cambridge.”

Robertson also pointed out that the investment company Blackrock had recently announced that their research showed that divestment from fossil fuels “improves, not weakens” investment returns.

“This means that investment in fossil fuel companies is not only helping them continue to damage the world by fuelling climate change”, Robertson continued,“but the trustee’s obligation to provide the fund with a good return on investment, was also being undermined.”

Robertson underlined the City Council’s concern about global warming, calling it a “threat to our world.”

“It is clear that continued investment in fossil fuels must be ended and reinvested in sustainable energy,” he said. “The City Council does not invest in fossil fuel companies and on behalf of the council and residents of Cambridge I will continue to put pressure on the pension fund to divest from fossil fuel investment.”

Varsity has contacted Cambridge City Council and the Cambridgeshire Pension Fund for comment.