South Yorkshire Pension Fund criticised for investing millions in factory farming companies that 'fuel climate change'

South Yorkshire Pensions Authority has been criticised for investing millions in ‘industrial livestock’ companies that contribute to climate change, deforestation and animal suffering, campaigners say.

Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 7:06 am

The organisation has £8.9 million of investments in firms that cause biodiversity loss and create the ‘perfect breeding ground’ for new viruses’, they claim.

Now campaign groups World Animal Protection and Feedback want it to dump bonds and shares so ‘public money is not being used to fuel climate change’.

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South Yorkshire Pension Fund is based at Oakwell House, 2 Beevor Court, Pontefract Road, Barnsley.

The five biggest meat and dairy companies collectively emit more greenhouse gases than oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, they say.

WHY ARE THE MEAT AND DAIRY INDUSTRIES IN THE DOCK?

And if current growth continues, the global meat and dairy industry will account for almost half the world’s carbon budget by 2030.

Martin Bowman, senior campaigner at Feedback, said: “Industrial livestock corporations are simply not compatible with a climate-safe future and, like fossil fuels, have no place in the pension portfolio of a climate-conscious local authority.”

The data shows that 10 local authority pension funds hold almost half of total investments in livestock companies, including councils in South Yorkshire – and all have declared a ‘climate emergency’.

Lindsay Duncan, farming campaign manager at World Animal Protection, said: “Public funds should be used to invest in our future not to jeopardise it. Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than all forms of transport put together.”

HOW HAS THE PENSIONS AUTHORITY RESPONDED TO CLAIMS IT IS JEOPARDISING THE PLANET’S FUTURE?

South Yorkshire Pensions Authority has a climate change policy and a ‘net-zero’ action plan.

A spokesman said it tried to change the behaviour of companies before excluding them from a portfolio. But it had yet to engage with the companies highlighted by the campaigners.

Its investment of around £9m was small in the context of a £10.8bn pension fund, he added.

He said: “We were one of the first local government pension funds to recognise the risk posed to its investments by climate change and, more recently, set itself an ambitious goal to decarbonise its investment portfolio.”

He added: “In addition, it is worth pointing out that the authority has investments in arable farming in the UK of £184m which are involved in the production of crops such as potatoes, carrots and salad crops and provide a form of carbon sink in some areas.”

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