Hucknall councillor brands County Hall's pensions investments as 'greenwashing'

A Hucknall county councillor has hit out at Nottinghamshire County Council’s announcement of investing pension funds into more sustainable companies, describing it as a ‘publicity stunt’.

Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 4:34 pm

The Nottinghamshire Pension Fund has invested £320 million of its £6.1 billion fund into a new sustainable pot in a bid to move towards a ‘greener economy’

The new pot is the Global Sustainable Equities Active Fund and has been launched in conjunction with Cheshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire Pension Funds and is worth a total of £1 billion.

But Coun Lee Waters (Ind), who represents Hucknall South at County Hall, said investment in the new fund could be seen as ‘greenwashing’.

Coun Lee Waters has called the council's pension investments into a sustainable fund a 'publicity stunt'

The Nottinghamshire pension fund has 145,000 members and covers 300 public service employers including district and borough councils as well as Nottingham Trent University.

Coun Eric Kerry (Con), chairman of the council’s pension fund committee, which looks after the fund, said he was ‘delighted’ at the investment.

But the pension fund, which still has millions of pounds invested in fossil fuel companies, has faced criticism in the past from environmental campaigners and members like Coun Waters.

Coun Kerry previously said that divesting from fossil fuel companies entirely is a ‘last resort’ and said engaging with them to become greener is a priority.

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He said: “It’s not just about climate change and renewable energy, it can be anything that helps create a better world in the future – including research, innovative businesses and plant based food companies.

“Broadly speaking we are looking at long-term issues facing the world and investing in companies to provide solutions.

“We had already moved money into sustainable companies and far more than we have in fossil fuels.

"That will continue as the world moves towards a greener economy.

“It won’t happen overnight and there is a lot of disruption right now but it is good that we have achieved what we said we were going to.”

Coun Waters said: “Nottinghamshire’s five per cent investment in this fund is done purely for PR purposes.

“Five per cent of monies will be put into this ‘branded segregated ethical portfolio’. If this wasn’t a publicity stunt – why have they not put more than five per cent in?

“This whole investment looks to me like deliberate greenwashing as they can continue to invest in unethical stocks.”