Decarbonising pension investments in Oxfordshire

Pension funds invested for local government workers at Oxfordshire councils and a large number of other local organisations have been re-shaped with the aim of maximising investment returns while at the same time better contributing to the aim of creating a greener, healthier and fairer county.

The Oxfordshire part of the Local Government Pension Scheme is overseen by the Pension Fund Committee which is hosted by the county council but which also represents the district and city councils and organisations such as Oxford Brookes University, academy schools, further education colleges and housing associations.

At its meeting earlier in June the Pension Fund Committee agreed to reduce its allocation to the UK market and in particular to the FTSE100 companies that have links to major oil, gas and and mining companies. The committee also chose to end investments in emerging markets reflecting concerns about social and governance issues – specifically within China and Saudi Arabia.

The committee instead agreed to invest pension funds in Sustainable Equities and Paris Aligned Benchmark portfolios run by the Brunel Partnership of which Oxfordshire is a member. Brunel Pension Partnership is one of eight UK Local Government Pension Scheme pools. The partnership includes the pension funds of Avon, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire as well as the Environment Agency.

Cllr Bob Johnston who chairs the committee said “We recognise the risks to investment performance associated with poor environmental, social and governance considerations and are keen to ensure our investments both deliver the returns to pay the pensions of our scheme members and ensure sustainable improvements for our planet. 

“We are happy that these changes will further de-carbonise our investments as well as increasing the investments in those areas vital to allow the world to adapt to the risks from climate change”.