Criticism of council report which details how pension fund would be affected by ‘catastrophic’ global warming temperatures – Reuters

Extinction Rebellion campaigners outside Nottinghamshire County Council headquarters
By Anna Whittaker, local democracy reporter

Climate campaigners are calling a Council report “absurd” for assessing what would happen to a pension fund if the world were to experience catastrophic global warming.

Activist group Extinction Rebellion Nottingham called the report from Nottinghamshire County Council ‘bizarre’ as it predicted what would happen to the authority’s pension fund if temperatures rose to 4C.

But the chairman of the pension fund committee, which looks after the pension pots of city workers, teachers and other public sector employees, said the ‘worst-case scenario’ modeling was not new.

Scientists generally agree that a rise in 4C around the world would create widespread heat waves, flooding and create a global catastrophe that would render the planet unrecognizable.

Climate activism group Extinction Rebellion Nottingham said the report “ignores the clear scientific evidence which shows that reaching a 4C rise would have catastrophic results in the UK and around the world”.

The report, released ahead of the Pension Fund Committee’s AGM on January 17, details “the annualized impact of climate change on portfolio returns – out to 2030 and 2050”.

It breaks down the impact on the body at 2, 3 and 4C heating.

He explains that in 2020, the fund worked with a contractor to understand “how the fund’s risk and return characteristics might be affected by a set of plausible climate scenarios.”

He concluded that “a result of 4°C is the worst of the three considered”.

And at the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow last year, work focused on limiting global warming to below 1.5C.

Extinction Rebellion campaigner John Balson said: ‘At 4C warming, most of the planet would be totally unrecognizable. It is completely catastrophic.

“There will be a 2m sea level rise and two billion refugees as a result. Then you get serious societal collapse.

“The fact that they only show the effect on the pension fund is clearly absurd. This calls into question the whole basis of the analogy they made.

“Cop26 has decided that we cannot go above 1.5C. The fact that their analysis doesn’t even go down to 1.5 is absolutely bizarre.

“The worry is that they are still watching the analysis while the world is in complete chaos.

“The fact that they are still investing in fossil fuels makes it worse.

“We don’t think the people of Nottingham would want their money invested in things that would make the world uninhabitable for their children.”

Climate models have predicted that the world should be between 1.1 and 5.4°C warmer in 2100 than it is today.

Rachel Adams, who retired from her post as county council public health officer in 2017 and is a pensioner, added: “Once again the pension fund committee shows that her claim to consider climate risk is devoid of understanding.”

Chairman of the Nottinghamshire Pension Fund Committee, Cllr Eric Kerry, said: “Worst-case scenario modeling is nothing new, as we have often seen during the pandemic, and we will continue to model from a perspective climatic.

“A closer examination of this report shows that the returns to our pension funds would be better served by a smaller increase in global warming.

“We are actually ahead of many other pension funds in our sustainable ambitions, and over time the fund’s exposure to fossil fuels is likely to decrease.”

There has been controversy in the past over parts of the fund being invested in fossil fuel companies.

The council has previously said it is “up to the challenge” of getting cleaner, greener investment.

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Dolores W. Simon