There’s no retirement on a burning planet

As part of Green UNISON week, our members have been lobbying the Hampshire Pension fund to divest from fossil fuels and for increased accountability

Image of globe heating

UNISON South East regional secretary Steve Torrance has this week (Tuesday) written to the Hampshire Pension fund calling for renewed action on climate change.

UNISON’s open letter follows lobbying by pension scheme members as part of UNISON’s latest Green Week, which ran from 18 – 26 September 2021. Scheme members wrote individual letters calling for the fund to divest from harmful fossil fuel industries that are contributing to the climate emergency.

Pension schemes have a key role to play in combatting the climate emergency by pulling out of all investments in fossil fuels, commonly known as divestment, says UNISON. Pension schemes like Hampshire’s invest retirement savings on behalf of workers and the union believes it is only right that scheme members should have a say on where that money is invested.

The Hampshire Pension Fund is one of the biggest pension schemes in the region with thousands of scheme members across dozens of employers, including Hampshire County Council, Southampton and Portsmouth City Councils, Winchester University, plus many schools and district councils in the county. UNISON is the largest union for scheme members in Hampshire representing council workers, social care staff, school and university support staff.

UNISON regional secretary Steve Torrance said: “There is no priority of greater importance than combatting the climate emergency and there will be no enjoyment in a hard-earned retirement for anyone on a burning planet.

“I am calling on the Hampshire Pension Fund to make a firm commitment this year to aligning its investments with goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C.

“An ambitious plan to achieve this must now be put in place by the scheme’s board to divest from the fossil fuel industries that are harming the planet. The Hampshire fund has been slow to action on this and has fallen far behind others in the sector.

“Comparable schemes have already shown that divesting from fossil fuels can be achieved in a way that protects fund members’ retirement investments and ensures a just transition for workers in carbon intensive industries.

“It was all the way back in 2019 that Hampshire County Council declared a climate emergency. It’s beyond time for the pension scheme to take urgent action and play its role with protecting our planet for future generations.”

Notes to editors:
Read the open letter from Regional Secretary Steve Torrance to the chair of the Hampshire Pension Fund

– Find out more about UNISON’s Green UNISON campaign

– Read UNISON’s 2019 report on divestment in the local government pension scheme

– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.