Nottinghamshire County Council pension fund report slammed as ‘absurd’ by climate campaigners

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

However, the chairman of the pension fund committee, which deals with the pension pots of municipal 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.

Protesters outside a Nottinghamshire pensions meeting, urging Nottinghamshire Council to divest from fossil fuels.

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

The report, released ahead of the committee’s annual general meeting, details “the annualized impact of climate change on portfolio returns – out to 2030 and 2050”.

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

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

He concluded that a 4C result 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 1.5°C.

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

“There will be a sea level rise of two meters 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 decided that we cannot exceed 1.5°C. 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, the council’s retired director of public health, a pensioner, said: ‘Once again the committee shows its claim to consider climate risk is devoid of understanding.

Councilor Eric Kerry (Con), chair of the committee, said: “Worst-case scenario modeling is nothing new, as we have seen often during the pandemic, and we will continue to model from a climate perspective.

“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 securing cleaner and greener investment.

Dolores W. Simon