UK councils are investing hundreds of thousands in manufacturing unit farming by way of their workers pension funds, new evaluation has discovered, prompting setting and animal rights campaigners to name for extra “climate-conscious” financing.
An estimated £238m of investments in industrial livestock firms are held by native authorities pension funds, based on an evaluation by the marketing campaign teams Suggestions and World Animal Safety.
Native authorities have beforehand come below hearth for investing billions in fossil fuels although pension funds, and 6 have already dedicated to divesting their portfolios.
Campaigners argue the “subsequent frontier” ought to be investments in manufacturing unit farming, pointing to the business’s carbon footprint, hyperlinks to deforestation and animal cruelty.
The 5 largest meat and dairy firms worldwide have been proven to collectively emit extra greenhouse gases than oil and gasoline big ExxonMobil, and greater than Shell or BP, the Institute for Agriculture and Commerce Coverage calculated.
As of February 2021, 74 p.c of the UK’s councils had declared a local weather emergency and Suggestions and World Animal Safety argue that intensive animal farming is at the moment a “blind spot” for native authorities.
Livestock are accountable for about 14.5 p.c of the entire human-caused greenhouse gasoline emissions globally. The federal government’s Local weather Change Committee suggested ministers final yr to induce the general public to eat much less meat and dairy if progress was to be made on web zero pledges.
A mean of solely 0.1 p.c of the native authorities’ pension fund investments had been in industrial livestock, making them simpler to divest, based on the report on the size of concern.
Evaluation of figures, obtained by way of freedom of data requests, discovered that the West Midlands pension fund had the biggest funding in industrial meat and dairy firms, standing at £35.9m.
A spokesperson for the fund mentioned it was “absolutely dedicated to aligning with the targets of the Paris Settlement and web zero ambition by 2050 or sooner.” They added the fund sought to “guarantee fund resilience as we decarbonise”.
Researchers additionally discovered Swansea council’s pension fund had invested £12.4m, and Strathclyde and Clwyd funds had put in £10.3m every.
The method of really divesting cash could be troublesome, nevertheless, and will take a number of years to finish.
A 3rd of the estimated £238m complete is direct investments in huge livestock firms, however 67 p.c had been oblique investments.
A number of councils additionally typically have their pensions administered by the identical fund, with one native council named because the “administering authority”.
Which means the administrator is legally accountable for managing the fund and its investments, though representatives from different councils may also sit on the board and information selections.
Some councils, similar to Glasgow metropolis council, say that regardless of an administrator of their funds they can not direct its investments.
Councillors have had some success nevertheless in passing motions calling on their funds to divest, as occurred in Luton Borough Council over fossil gasoline firm investments.
Some councils have proven they’ll work to cut back their publicity to high-carbon investments. Analysis carried out by teams Platform and Pals of the Earth discovered final yr that council’s pension fund investments in fossil fuels had decreased to almost £10bn, down from £14bn in 2015.
Martin Bowman, senior campaigner at Suggestions, mentioned: “Industrial livestock firms are merely not suitable with a climate-safe future and like fossil fuels, haven’t any place within the pension portfolio of a climate-conscious native authority.
“We’re calling on councils to divest their bonds and shares in these firms.”
£230million of the council’s investments are in simply 15 firms, accounting for 97 p.c of the cash, the analysis reveals.
The most important investments are in China Mengnui Dairy, Tyson Meals, WH Group and Yili Group.
China Mengnui Dairy and the Yili Group are China’s two main dairy firms, who collectively management 40 p.c of the nation’s dairy market.
Tyson Meals is the world’s second-largest meat processor, with an annual income of £31.2bn, whereas the WH Group is the world’s largest producer of pork.
Lindsay Duncan, marketing campaign supervisor at World Animal Safety, mentioned: “Public funds ought to be used to spend money on our future to not jeopardise it. We urge native authorities to think about all elements of dangerous manufacturing unit farming together with poor welfare, deforestation, species loss and the devastating results of local weather change.”