INVESTMENTS made to pay the pensions of local government and emergency service workers should no longer be in fossil fuels, say campaigners.

The Hampshire Pension Fund, part of the local government pension scheme, provides pensions for council workers, school staff, police officers, firefighters and more.

But as the county council pushes towards its goal of net-zero carbon emissions, campaigners have pointed out that this fund – and its investments – must be environmentally friendly.

It comes as a consultation is launched on the future of the fund.

Christine Holloway, who co-ordinates the Hampshire Pension Fund Divest campaign, said: “We hope that many people in Hampshire, whether they are in the pensions scheme or not, will take a few minutes to reply to the consultation.

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“Support the good steps that are proposed, and ask them to make their target 1.5C.

“The 1.5C limit was confirmed at the Glasgow climate summit and is being urged by leading voices like Sir David Attenborough.”

Campaigners want the Hampshire Pension Fund to state the 1.5C target in its decarbonisation plan.

As of December 2021, the value of the pension fund’s investments was £9.9bn – £214m (2.2 per cent) was invested in fossil fuel companies and £323m (3.3 per cent) was invested in renewable energy.

According to the county council, one of the priorities is getting rid of thermal coal investments.

Cllr Mark Kemp-Gee, who heads the pension fund board, said: “Simply disinvesting from all fossil fuel companies is not a straightforward solution to tackling climate change – some fossil fuels are still important to support our daily lives and the transition to a low carbon economy, such as producing the steel to build wind turbines.

“This is not the case with thermal coal, for which suitable cleaner alternatives already exist, which is why we will be considering working with investment managers to remove investments in thermal coal from our portfolio.

“Reducing emissions from investments is not as straightforward as walking away from fossil fuel companies altogether, but our approach has already achieved a 69 per cent reduction in our carbon footprint, and we will now be considering whether we keep going until we get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

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