Wakefield Labour joins calls for West Yorkshire Pension fund to abandon fossil fuel stakes

Managers of the pension fund which supports council employees across West Yorkshire is facing growing calls to abandon its investments in fossil fuels.

Managers of the fund have drawn criticism for investing in oil and gas companies.

The West Yorkshire Pension Fund has faced criticism in recent years for having financial stakes in oil and gas companies, with campaigners claiming it contradicts promises made by local councils about tackling climate change.

On Tuesday, Wakefield Council's controlling Labour group announced it was calling for the fund to move away from such investments in a "measured way", that protects the interests of workers.

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It follows a similar move by the party in Calderdale in July.

Council leader Denise Jeffery with deputy Jack Hemingway. Coun Hemingway said on Tuesday Labour's position would soon become official council policy.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Wakefield's deputy leader Jack Hemingway said: "Following contact from various environmental groups, the controlling group has taken the decision to support the calls for divestment from fossil fuel investments, within the West Yorkshire Pension Fund.

"I'm announcing that today, as it is our plan to formalise that in council policy in the very near future."

Addressing the issue at a meeting in July, the chair of the Bradford-based pension fund said he recognised the environmental concerns and that the organisation was striving for a "net zero portfolio" on emissions.

However, he also said that the fund's priority was its members and that meeting their needs was being done with "climate change considerations in mind".

Campaign group Fossil Free West Yorkshire welcomed news of Wakefield's position, saying it was "delighted" by the development.

The group said it hoped, "West Yorkshire councils will take the bold action needed to shape a world that is safe and healthy, where everyone can thrive."

Local Democracy Reporting Service