MILLIONS of pounds from a Gwent pension fund have been invested into companies producing fossil fuels, according to new data from environmental campaigners.

A new report ‘Fuelling the Fire’ has been produced by Friends of the Earth (FOTE) to examine local authority pension fund investments across the UK.

Based on a freedom of information request for the 2016/17 financial year, the campaigners state the Greater Gwent (Torfaen) pension fund has invested more than £245milllion into fossil fuel companies.

The Greater Gwent fund – which manages pensions for Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen – has the highest percentage of investment in fossil fuels in Wales and third highest investment among all UK pension funds, according to the financial data.

The figures cover the period up to March 31 this year and fossil fuel calculations were based on investments in the top 100 oil and gas companies and top 100 coal companies according to the Carbon Underground 200 index.

FOTE state that out of the £2,700,194,120 in the Torfaen fund in 2016/17, around 9.11 per cent – or £245,856,816 – was invested into companies producing fossil fuels.

Climate campaigner at FOTE Cymru, Bleddyn Lake, described the data as “appalling” and called for Torfaen council to act on the issue.

“Pension funds are supposed to provide security for workers when they retire,” he said.

“But with the world waking up to the necessity of ending its reliance on gas, coal and oil, the fossil fuel industry is no longer a sustainable, sensible investment choice.

“Local authorities, such as Torfaen, must show some real leadership on climate change, as well as protecting pensions, by ending their investments in the fossil fuel industry.”

The Greater Gwent (Torfaen) Pension Fund is part of the national Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS).

Its members include council employees for all five Gwent local authorities alongside colleges, town and community councils, community organisations and other employers.

In Wales, all eight local authority pension funds collectively invested £1,027,843,384 into fossil fuels out of a £15,382,932,477 pot.

FOTE campaigners state the Wales-wide figures conflict with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 which requires public bodies to consider environmental issues in their decision-making.

A Torfaen Council spokesman said the fund operates in the “best interests of its members” with the majority of investments made through “pooled investment products”.

He said investments are made by external managers who are expected to operate within industry standards through membership of the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI).

He added:“This sets the international principles for responsible investment whilst the fund itself is a member of the LAPFF, a collective of local government pension funds who look to influence behaviours within those companies who we invest in."

For more information on the data, visit: