Pension fund members protest at Town Hall over their contributions being spent in 'harmful' ways

Members joined forces to stage a protest at South Shields Town Hall over the spending of their contributions.
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Members of Tyne and Wear Pension Fund gathered at South Shields Town Hall to stage a protest as they believe their contributions are being spent in ways that 'harm' the planet.

Pension fund members have been left angry at being prevented from attending their own annual general meeting and wore black gags at a protest vigil to make a stand.

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Tyne & Wear Pension Fund is used by six local authorities, and its members travelled from as far away as Northumberland, Gateshead, Newcastle and North Tyneside. Others sent letters of support or signed a petition. 

They want the chance to express concerns that their money is being used in ways that harm their future, through supporting fossil fuel expansion that will increase global temperatures above safe limits, rather than switching investment to less risky sustainable options.

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Tyne and Wear Pension Fund Protest at South Shields Town HallTyne and Wear Pension Fund Protest at South Shields Town Hall
Tyne and Wear Pension Fund Protest at South Shields Town Hall

Tyne & Wear Pension Fund is one of the biggest investors in oil, gas and oil of all UK council pension funds – recent new research suggested this was at least £461m, well above the £238m figure known by the public.

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Organiser Alison Whalley said: “Even though our pension fund wouldn’t let us take part in today’s AGM, we came from all directions to demand our chance to have a voice. It can’t be right to take our money, then slam the door in our faces.”

A key message to protesters demonstrated was they "will not be silenced". .

A spokesperson for the Tyne and Wear Pension Fund said: “The Tyne and Wear Pension Fund is fully committed to playing its part in tackling the challenge of climate change. We have not only achieved, but surpassed, the interim carbon emissions reduction target set out in our Climate Change Policy and Net Zero Roadmap in 2021. The 2023 carbon footprint shows that emissions have reduced by almost 40% cent from the 2019 baseline, surpassing the 2025 target two years early.

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"We are proud of our progress so far but recognise we have further to go and will continue to actively engage with investment managers and companies to improve climate outcomes and consider climate risks in our investment decisions. 

"It is vital that investment decisions are made in a financially sustainable, balanced manner in order to keep the costs of the scheme at an affordable level. This helps the Fund's employers in providing vital front line public services and also helps protect members' benefits and North East jobs."

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