Transition Chesterfield, together with other groups and individuals all over Derbyshire, have a Divest Derbyshire campaign to get the Derbyshire Pension Fund to dis-invest (divest) from fossil fuels. The Pension Fund has millions of pounds invested in fossil fuel companies.

Latest news:

Derbyshire Pension Fund are consulting on their draft Climate Strategy until end of Jan 2024. The strategy avoids commitment to the most obvious action on climate change, divesting from fossil fuel companies. Please see our response to the consultation here. Please see our Briefing on the climate strategy consultation which includes some suggested points to adapt and send to the Pension Fund before 31 Jan. Here is a word version of our Briefing on climate strategy consultation which retains all the links when copied and pasted.

In June 2023 we released a new Briefing on the unethical investments held by the Derbyshire Pension Fund including millions of pounds in fossil fuels, tobacco, military and nuclear weapons and with companies accused of human rights abuses and corruption.

In March 2023 a giant oil monster and oil barons performed an oil-themed Jabberwocky outside County Hall, as part of a National Day of Divestment against council pension funds being invested in fossil fuels. You can find the Press release here.

In February 2022 Derbyshire Pensioners Action Group organised a webinar with Mark Campanale of Carbon Tracker, about the Financial Risks of Fossil Fuel Investment.  Around 30 Councillors from across Derbyshire attended this, including several members of the Pension Committee. You can watch the recording at this link. Passcode: 2YK?9Y$C

In October 2021 we contacted over 200 schools, colleges, councils, the Police and Fire Authorities and other employers across Derbyshire, who are members of the Derbyshire Pension Fund, to ask them to email the Chair of the Pension Committee and the Pension Fund about divestment. In November 2021 we ‘spooked’ Council staff with a giant oil monster and rally outside County Hall to encourage staff pension members to write to the Derbyshire Pension Fund to ask them to divest from fossil fuels. See pictures of the demonstration here.This coincided with the COP26 Finance Day at the UN’s climate talks in Glasgow.  You can check which schools and colleges are members of Derbyshire Pension Fund here

See the email sent to all County Councillors after the May 2021 elections. the Response from Derbyshire County Council candidates to our email asking them to support a motion to divest the Derbyshire Pension Fund from fossil fuels.

In Feburary 2021 Platform and Friends of the Earth released a report Divesting to protect our pensions and the planet, which showed that Derbyshire Pension Fund held £147 Million of investments in fossil fuel companies in the 2019/20 financial year, while across the UK, councils held £9.9 billion of fossil fuel investments. This useful tool gives a breakdown of fossil fuel investments by local councils.

At their February 2021 meetings Bolsover District Council and High Peak Borough Council have both voted to support motions in favour of divestment. Well done to all Councillors who voted in favour! In January 2021 we wrote to all Derbyshire County Councillors (and copied to all borough and district councillors in Derbyshire) asking if they would support a motion calling on the Derbyshire Pension Fund to fully divest from all fossil fuels and to reinvest in more environmentally and socially beneficial alternatives by 2024. We will publish the responses in March.

The Derbyshire Pension Fund met in November and agreed their draft Climate Strategy despite the fact that 40 out of the 49 responses had recommended divestment. The Divest Derbyshire response can be found here.  Although we welcome the aims of the Climate Strategy to reduce its exposure to fossil fuels slightly, and invest more in low carbon investments, we don’t think it goes far enough. The high risks of climate change demand much more urgent action and faster timescales. We have written to the Chair of the Pension Fund asking him to honour his commitment from 2017 to meet with us, and requested representation at the Jan 2021.  They have refused every time we ask!

To understand more about the role of the finance sector in in tackling climate change watch this powerful, free to view, new film Our Planet: Too Big to Fail.

Results of a Derbyshire Pension Fund members surveyin 2020  reveals that two-thirds are concerned about investments in fossil fuel companies.

In July 2020 Chesterfield Borough Council unanimously supported a motion calling on Derbyshire Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels and engage more with fund members and employers. Thanks to all the Councillors who supported  it. The final accepted motion and speeches can be found here.  In May 2020 we sent all councillors in Derbyshire (County, Borough and District) a joint letter from Divest Derbyshire and the Derbyshire Pensioners Action Group calling for divestment and greater transparency. The response from Cllr Perkins (28/05/20) and our rebuttal to Cllr Perkins (03/06/20)  can be found here. We sent the Pensions and Investment Committee an updated briefing on the reasons for divestment in February 2020.

In December 2018 we asked a public question about divestment and received a detailed response at a full meeting of Derbyshire County Council. In September 2018 we submitted comments on the Derbyshire Pension Fund Investment Strategy, calling for stocks to be excluded where there is evidence there are long term financial risks. In September 2018 the Divest Fracking campaign revealed that UK Councils are investing millions in the global fracking industry. In April 2018 Toby Perkins MP signed the Divest Parliament pledge. In March 2018 Derby City Councillors voted overwhelmingly for a motion calling on the Derbyshire Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels. In August 2017 we made a presentation to the Derbyshire Pensions Committee. In March 2017 we handed in over 1,000 signatures to the Chair of the Pensions and Investments Committee responsible for managing the fund, calling on them to dis-invest from existing investments in fossil fuels within 5 years.

What you can do: Please email your local County Councillor to ask them to support the campaign to divest our council funds. Instead let’s invest in green jobs and technologies in Derbyshire. If you would like to join our campaign please email Lisa via divest@transitionchesterfield.org.uk

Our main objective is to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels. However there are strong financial reasons for divesting from fossil fuels:

Fossil fuels are an investment risk – fossil fuel companies risk losing $33 trillion in revenue over the next 25 years as climate change forces companies to leave oil, natural gas and coal in the ground. Click here for a video featuring the Chair of Newton Investment Management explaining why fossil fuels are a bad investment.

The Pension Fund Committee must consider climate risk – as long term investors the Committee must examine the risks properly. The Pensions Regulator has pointed out that climate change could be “financially significant, both over the short and longer term”. Pension Trustees who fail to consider climate risk could be exposing themselves to legal challenge in the future.

Engagement is not working – the Pension Fund Committee has stated its position is one of engagement rather than divestment. We believe that while in some instances engagement can be very helpful, it is far less effective when what you are objecting to is part of a company’s core business. Even within the most “progressive” fossil fuel companies, oil and gas will continue to be the main part of their core business well beyond the point necessary to meet our carbon targets.

Alternative investments can provide value – while the Committee needs to provide good returns to finance the pension scheme, there are many other alternative investments that can provide value and which are environmentally and socially beneficial.

A growing number of local government pension schemes have decided to divest from fossil fuels including: The Environment Agency Pension Fund; South Yorkshire Pension Fund; Haringey Pension Fund; Waltham Forest Pension Fund; Southwark Pension Fund; Hackney Pension Fund. Institutions across the world are divesting including churches and universities. Ireland will be the first country to divest from fossil fuels.

Click here to see our 2020 Divestment briefing, our 2016 Divestment Briefing and Cover letter for petition (2017), and Friends of the Earth resources on why local government pension funds should divest from fossil fuels.

If you would like to help with the campaign or for more information please contact Lisa at divest@transitionchesterfield.org.uk

The Divest Derbyshire campaign is supported by the following organisations (in alphabetical order:
Amber Valley Against Fracking,
Bolsover Against Fracking
Chesterfield and District TUC,
Chesterfield Climate Alliance,
Clay Cross Against Fracking,
Creswell Against Fracking,
Derby Climate Coalition,
Derbyshire Pensioners Action Group
Eckington Against Fracking,
Glossopdale Transition Initiative,
Medact East Midlands
Melbourne Area Transition,
Sustainable Edale,
Sustainable Hayfield,
Transition Belper,
Transition Buxton,
Transition Chesterfield,
Transition Hope Valley,
Transition Matlock,
Transition New Mills.
Transition Wirksworth;
University of Derby Students’ Union