Divestment target close to being reached, council claims

Divest Waltham Forest
Divest Waltham Forest campaigners Helen Porter (left) and Nat Harding (right) celebrating the council’s divestment pledge outside Waltham Forest Town Hall in 2016

Council aims to become first UK local authority to fully divest, reports Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter, and James Cracknell

Waltham Forest Council claims it has made “significant progress” towards its goal to end its investment in fossil fuels via its pension fund.

The council was the first local authority in the UK to pledge to fully divest its pension fund from fossil fuels, making the commitment in September 2016 and, at the time, saying it would reach this goal within five years.

The chair of the council’s pension committee, Johar Khan, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that investment in fossil fuels now accounted for “just 0.4%” of the fund.

At the end of the last financial year the fund was worth £862.5m, putting the council’s current fossil fuel investments at almost £3.5m.

Cllr Khan said: “The council has made significant progress toward its ambition of divesting from fossil fuels by April 2022. 

“The most recent figures show that fossil fuel equities account for 0.4% of the council’s pension fund, all through one pooled fund managed by the London Collective Investment Vehicle. 

“Divesting from fossil fuels is part of the pension fund’s response to climate change and the inevitable movement toward a global low-carbon economy.”

The claim comes after a Friends of the Earth and UK Divest report published last month stated that Waltham Forest’s pension fund still had £27,866,378 invested in fossil fuels.

However, the report used figures from the 2019/20 financial year, while the council says its figures are from the current year. The council does not publicly release data on its exact investments.