Kent’s Fossilised Investments


Ten more UK universities are divesting from fossil fuels ahead of a crunch climate meeting in Paris, the Guardian reports today.

That’s days after the Met Office warned that for the first time, the global mean temperature at the Earth’s surface is set to reach 1 °C above pre-industrial levels.

KCC’s £4.5 billion pension fund – which refuses to divest – meanwhile lost £32.6 million betting on coal companies over the past 18 months, the FT claims.

And an FOI request revealed that the fund has over £110 million invested in oil and gas companies including BG Group, BP, Shell, Apache and EOG Resources.

The political fossils at KCC like their fuel counterparts. Divesting, they figure, would be too tricky, too pointless and leave Kent’s pensioners out of pocket. As I wrote recently, although their concerns are valid, they are wrong.

A quick look at the MSCI ACWI ex-Fossil Fuels Index, shows that over the past three years, the fossil fuels-free index outperformed its parent index.

Other, more ethical investments can also drive hard returns. And as the International Energy Agency reported this week, renewables are booming:

There are clear signs that an energy transition is underway: renewables contributed almost half of the world’s new power generation capacity in 2014 and have already become the second-largest source of electricity (after coal).

[We find that] renewables are set to become the leading source of new energy supply from now to 2040. Their deployment grows worldwide, with a strong concentration in the power sector where renewables overtake coal as the largest source of electricity generation by the early-2030s.

Turning that into double-digit returns for a pension fund is not easy. But as I highlighted before, there are scores of ethical funds out there reporting excellent returns.

Kent’s fossils need to get off their high horse, take a look at what the universities are doing and start putting public money into cleaner hands.


2 responses to “Kent’s Fossilised Investments

    • No. But the University of Kent at least (haven’t checked the others’ policies) investment policy explicitly states that it will not (a) invest directly in companies the major part of whose business is pornography, gambling, tobacco, fossil fuels or armaments.
      OR (b) invest in pooled investment funds where there is a significant exposure to companies the major part of whose business is pornography, gambling, tobacco, fossil fuels or armaments. That’ll do for me. They’re pretty small beans against the pension fund too.

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