Criticism of Notts council report which details how pension fund would be affected at ‘catastrophic’ global warming temperatures

Climate campaigners are calling a Nottinghamshire council report ‘absurd’ for assessing what would happen to a pension fund if the world was to undergo catastrophic global warming.

By Anna Whittaker
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 9:25 am

Activism group Extinction Rebellion Nottingham criticised the Nottinghamshire Council report as ‘bizarre’ because it predicts what would happen to the authority’s pension fund if temperatures rose by up to 4C.

However, the chairman of the pension fund committee, which looks after the retirement pots for council workers, teachers and other public sector employees, said modelling for the ‘worst-case scenario’ is nothing new.

Scientists generally agree a rise of 4C worldwide would create widespread heatwaves, flooding and create a global disaster which would render the planet unrecognisable.

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Protestors outside a Nottinghamshire pensions meeting, urging Nottinghamshire Council to divest from fossil fuels.

Extinction Rebellion Nottingham said the report ‘ignores clear scientific evidence that shows reaching a 4C rise would have catastrophic results in the UK and worldwide’.

The report, published ahead of the committee’s annual general meeting, details the ‘annualised climate change impact on portfolio returns – to 2030 and 2050’.

It breaks down the impact on the fund at 2C, 3C and 4C heating.

It explains that in 2020, the fund worked with a contractor to understand ‘the extent to which the fund’s risk and return characteristics could come to be affected by a set of plausible climate scenarios’.

It concluded a 4C outcome is the worst of the three considered.

And at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last year, work focused on limiting global warming temperatures to below 1.5C.

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John Balson, Extinction Rebellion campaigner, said: “At 4C of warming, most of the planet would be totally unrecognisable. It is completely catastrophic.

“There will be rising sea levels of two metres and two billion refugees as a result. Then you get serious societal breakdown.

“The fact they only show the effect on the pension fund is clearly absurd. It brings into question the whole basis of the analogy they have done.

“COP26 settled that we can’t go higher than 1.5C. The fact their analysis doesn’t even go down to 1.5 is absolutely bizarre.

“The worry is they are still looking at the analysis as the world is in complete chaos.

“The fact they are still investing in fossil fuels is making things worse.

“We don’t believe the people of Nottingham would want their money to be invested in things which will make the world uninhabitable for their children.”

Climate models have predicted the world is on track to be between 1.1-5.4C warmer in 2100 than it is today.

Retired council public health manager Rachel Adams, a pension beneficiary, said: “Once again, the committee shows their claim to be considering climate risk is devoid of understanding.”

Coun Eric Kerry, committee chairman, said: “Modelling worse-case scenarios is nothing new, as we have witnessed frequently during the pandemic, and we will continue to model from a climate perspective.

“A closer inspection of this report shows our pension fund returns would be better served from a lower global warming increase.

“We are actually ahead of a lot of other pension funds in our sustainable ambitions, and over time the fund’s exposure to fossil fuels is likely to reduce.”

There has been controversy in the past over parts of the fund being invested in fossil fuel companies.

The council previously said it is ‘up for the challenge’ of getting cleaner, greener investments.

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