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Welsh pension funds 'going into fracking' CAMPAIGN GROUPS POINT FINGER AT COUNCILS.

Byline: TOM MOLLOY Daily Post Reporter

NORTH Wales councils are investing PS63million into 'fracking companies', according to a new report.

The data, released by campaign groups Friends of the Earth, Platform and, suggests that councils are putting money into the businesses through the councils' management of local government pension funds.

Clwyd Pension Fund, which covers Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire, is accused of ploughing PS11,155,430 of their PS1,380,322,000 budget into fracking companies.

Gwynedd Pension Fund, covering Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey, is said to have invested PS51,849,148.62 of their PS1,864,232,862.

Friends of the Earth described 'fracking companies' as any of those on the Carbon Underground 200, a list of the top 100 public coal companies and the top 100 public oil and gas companies globally.

They said that all companies included in the figures have also made public statements that they are involved in hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) of shale.

While there is a temporary ban on fracking in Wales, the companies being invested in are working in countries such as Argentina, USA, Canada, Australia, China and Oman.

Friends of the Earth believe that the investments fly in the face of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to consider environmental and sustainable development in every decision they make.

Friends of the Earth Cymru spokesperson Bleddyn Lake said: "At exactly the same time as the Welsh Government is proposing to effectively kill off any prospects of fracking in Wales, the news that Welsh Local Authority Pension Funds are investing money in companies who continue to frack in other countries around the world is shocking.

"Increasing extreme weather events show that climate change is really taking hold, so we must all do all we can to reduce our climate emissions. These large fossil fuel companies carry on their business-as-usual approach pushing us ever closer to runaway climate change.

"Welsh councils shouldn't be profiting from fracking in other people's back yards. We need to see a clear commitment to remove all investments, direct or indirect, from fossil fuel companies."

Phil Latham, Manager of Clwyd Pension Fund, said they don't invest in companies that are solely concerned in fracking. He added that the level of investment in fracking companies is significantly lower than the reports suggest. He said: "We do not invest in companies that just undertake fracking activity.

"We have been advised by our global equity and emerging market equity fund managers that there are some large companies within their portfolios who may have a small proportion of income from fracking. In November 2017, the investment in these companies was lower, that being PS7.6m or about 0.4% of a PS1.8bn fund. The Clwyd Pension Fund publishes an investment strategy statement which includes its policy on responsible investment and this is available on the website."

Gwynedd Council, who are responsible for the Gwynedd Pension Fund, said that they have been reviewing their investments, to include more 'responsible investment' principles. They will be releasing a revised Investment Strategy Statement in November.

A Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: "Gwynedd's Pensions Committee and the Fund's Pension Board, with Fund officers and independent advisers, have been considering 'responsible investment',' prioritising environmental, social and governance factors, and agreeing responsible investment principles. "We are identifying issues that the Gwynedd Pension Fund shares with the other seven Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) funds in Wales, and that could include a view on fossil fuels. Agreement on 'responsible investment' measures could then facilitate a review of individual funds' policies on environmental, social and governance issues."
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 3, 2018
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