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Significant Divestment Developments

This summer has seen two significant developments that support divestment from fossil fuels.

In June The Church of England publicly declared that it will adopt an investment policy based on the principle of divestment from fossil fuels. And with even more relevance to Surrey County council, fellow members of Border to Coast Pension Partnership (BCPP), East Yorkshire, passed a motion supporting divestment.

The church announced on 22 June 2023 that it was abandoning oil and gas companies and all firms primarily engaged in the exploration, production and refining of oil or gas by the end of 2023, unless they were in genuine alignment with a 1.5C reduction pathway.

It’s particularly noteworthy that the Church of England Press release references a 10 year long period of engagement with fossil fuel companies that has failed to deliver results:

“The Pensions Board has engaged the sector over the past ten years with a view to bolstering the level of ambition in company strategies to decarbonise in line with the Paris Agreement. While some companies have come close to achieving alignment as assessed by the TPI, none have met the threshold to remain investible.

As a result, the Pensions Board will no longer prioritise engagement with the oil and gas sector on climate change.”

SPAN commends the Surrey Pension Fund Committee for the significant reductions they have made to their fossil fuel holdings in recent years, however they currently still have £75 million invested in fossil fuels.

Contrary to the approach taken by the Church of England, Surrey Pension Fund has remained determined that engagement will result in fossil fuel companies changing their business models, when year after year engagement from multiple pension schemes is failing to deliver this result. We do not have another ten years to waste on a failed investment strategy.

SPAN calls on the Surrey Pension Fund Committee to:

  • Listen to the evidence and follow the example set by the Church of England to sell the remaining £75 million that it holds in fossil fuels.

  • Join forces with East Yorkshire council to put pressure on BCPP to divest from fossil fuels.

Lindsey Coeur-Belle, SPAN member said:

“Surrey Pension Fund has the opportunity to build on the huge strides that they’ve already taken to reduce their exposure to fossil fuels. It’s time to face up to the fact that engagement with fossil fuel companies is simply not bringing the desired results in the time frame needed, and bolder action must be taken.”


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