York pension fund goes green and invests in renewable technology

The pension fund for council workers in York and North Yorkshire has invested £140 million in green and renewable technology.

The North Yorkshire Pension Fund manages the pension for council workers in both York and North Yorkshire, as well as for community groups and some private companies. It has about 100,000 members in total.

It has just invested £140 million of its members cash in a new, green ‘Climate Opportunities Fund’, which holds investments in green and renewable technologies and resources.

The investment represents about three per cent of the North Yorkshire Pension Fund’s £5 billion of investments.

That is a comparatively small amount – but at least it is a start, said York councilor and pension fund committee member Christian Vassie.

Committee members had actually wanted to invest more in the new, green fund – up to £180 million – but were limited because the fund was oversubscribed, said Cllr Vassie, who is chair of York’s climate change committee. “But that shows there is real appetite for investment in this type of fund,” he said.

Cllr Vassie said that investing in the fund made sense, from both an environmental point of view, and in terms of guaranteeing a good return for pension holders.

“Some people imagine that you either make money or tackle climate change,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.

“The returns from investing in a sustainable low-carbon future are higher than those from investing in fossil fuels. The blip in fossil fuel prices that we are currently seeing comes in the context of a long period of losses and, as we switch to electric vehicles and retrofitting homes to make them energy efficient, the demand for fossil fuels will drop.

“Many of those who have pensions with the North Yorkshire Pension Fund will be delighted to know their pensions are being invested in decarbonising the economy and providing a safer and more sustainable future for their children. I am proud, as York council’s representative on the committee , to play apart in helping that to make that happen.”

In addition to investing in the new green fund, the North Yorkshire Pension Fund has also begun the process of divesting itself from funds which have links to fossil fuels, Cllr Vassie days.

The fund does not have any direct investments in fossil fuel companies such as Shell or BP.

The £1.3 billion Climate Opportunities Fund was set up by ‘Border to Coast’, the umbrella organization which represents 11 local authority pension funds in the north of England.

Member local pension authority funds were invited to bid to invest in the new fund.

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