PROTESTORS gathered to call for Dorset Council's pension fund to disinvest in fossil fuel industries.

Local authority council pension members from Dorset and across the south gathered in Bristol last week to protest against their pension funds being invested in anything which is carbon intensive.

Dorset Council Pension Fund is managed by Brunel Pension Partnership. Including Dorset Council, there are nine local authorities across the South West plus the Environment Agency in the partnership.

Individual members from across the local authorities in the Brunel partnership have come together to form the non-affiliated campaign group South West Action on Pensions (SWAP), who organised the protest in Bristol.

Caz Dennett from SWAP in Dorset said: "We object to the lack of targets to remove fossil fuels from Brunel’s portfolio. We believe that the partnership is taking unnecessary financial risks by continuing to invest in fossil fuels, risks which will be borne by electors as well as by pensioners and their families across our region."

Dorset Council has received 'a large number of questions' about their approach to investing in fossil fuels, following the council's declaration of a climate and ecological emergency back in 2019.

Councillor Andy Canning, chairman of the Dorset Council pension fund committee, said: "In addition to this event, we have received a large number of questions from members of the public regarding the pension fund’s approach to investments in fossil fuels and we welcome the interest in this very important topic which was discussed at length at the meeting of the committee in September 2020. The reports, minutes and a recording of those discussions are all available on the Council’s website.

"The approach agreed by the committee was not to divest completely from companies involved in the sourcing and refining of fossil fuels, instead we will seek to reduce investment in all high carbon emitting companies and to influence the demand for fossil fuels and their financing, not just their supply.

"The decision was based upon evidence presented to the committee by independent investment consultants, Mercer, that a strategy of decarbonisation can deliver significantly greater reductions in the ‘carbon footprint’ of investments than can be achieved by divestment.

"Divestment is effectively a transfer of ownership that does not directly lead to a reduction in either the supply or demand for fossil fuels but it does remove the opportunity to influence companies by working with them to transition to a lower carbon future. I would like to add, however, that targeted divestment remains an option from individual companies who will not positively engage."