Livid climate change campaigners have urged the county council to sever its ties with the fossil fuel industry after a report revealed the authority has invested nearly £133million in oil, coal and gas through its pension fund.
Campaign group Fossil Free Oxfordshire said the controversial investments threaten the climate and also represent an unacceptable financial risk to pension-holders.
Group member Al Chisholm said: “It’s shocking to see our council investing so significantly in such a financially risky and morally bankrupt industry.
“Two years ago our government agreed to the Paris Treaty, pledging that the UK, along with the rest of the world, would take real action to tackle climate change.”
He added: “It [the fund] specifically includes risk due to climate change and the sooner it stops investing in the companies responsible for the crisis the better.
“It flies in the face of all the efforts being made locally to reduce emissions and combat climate change.”
Across the UK, council pension funds invest a total of £16bn in oil, coal and gas companies, up from £14bn in 2015.
Oxfordshire County Council’s investment is up nearly 11 per cent from £120m from the same year.
Pete Wallis, member of Oxfordshire’s pension scheme and a Fossil Free Oxfordshire supporter, said: “As a council employee I’m deeply uncomfortable that my pension is being invested in companies that are still exploring for new sources of fossil fuel.
“Our councils, and all public institutions, must cut their ties with the fossil fuel companies responsible and divest.”
A county council spokesperson said it was the Oxfordshire Pension Fund Committee which managed the Oxfordshire Local Government Pension Scheme on behalf of more than 150 employers across the county, including the county, city and district councils.
A statement read: “Legal opinion obtained by the national Shadow Scheme Advisory Board states that the first duty of all Pension Fund Committees is to the membership of the scheme and that they cannot place ethical and other social, environmental and governance factors above the requirement to maximise the investment returns for a given level of risk.”