Green campaigners are calling on the region’s largest pension fund to stop investing in oil, coal and other fossil fuels.
The West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF), of which thousands of current and former council workers are members, invests an incredible £355 million in fossil fuel firms according to the Friends of The Earth, 350.org and Platform campaign groups.
This includes £58 million in Shell and £43 million in BP according to their research.
With a value in the region of £11.5 billion the WMPF is the third biggest in the UK and one of the top 300 in the world.
The joint campaign, called Divest WMPF, is urging the pension fund members from Birmingham, Solihull, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Coventry to lobby for a change in the investment strategy and help their battle against climate change.
Annie Randall of Birmingham Friends of the Earth said: “Most fund members and taxpayers won’t be happy to learn that their money is funding climate change.
“As local residents we’ll be calling on the council to stand on the right side of history and divest from fossil fuels.”
They argue that the long oil, coal and fossil fuel extraction continues the more damaging the effects of climate change will be and therefore the Fund should pull its support.
The group staged a protest and handed in a letter at the Fund’s offices in Wolverhampton.
Birmingham Labour councillor John Clancy investigated council pension funds in his book The Secret Wealth Garden and has argued the investments should be put to better use to more directly benefit citizens - used to invest in property and jobs in the region.
When challenging for Labour group leadership in Birmingham he argued that the WMPF should be investing in local businesses and homes.
“Rather than investing in global oil corporations or even wind farms in Mexico, I would argue that they should be looking at investing in the local economy.
“They would be better off, as I have suggested, using the fund to support housing in the West Midlands and investing in local business.”
He said that according to the latest report the Fund only places 1.3 per cent of its investments in social and environmental projects and it should probably be trying to increase that.
“They are backing a wind farm in Mexico, perhaps they should be looking at backing a wind farm or renewable energy in Birmingham,” he added.
The Pension Fund has not yet responded to the protest.