USS, Another Cog In The Climate Issue

Blog Feb 26, 2020

USS is investing £1.3billion into Fossil Feuls!

You need to be aware of the environmental implications of USS due to this investment into Fossil Fuel industries.

The USS, also known as the Universities Superannuation Scheme, is a pension scheme prevalent in the UK that has over £67 billion under its management. It has over 400,000 members that are both active and retired academic or academic related staff.

At the moment, out of the top 10 listed equities that USS has holdings with, none of them are companies that have policies or agreements that align with the Paris Climate Agreement goal to limit global temperature increase to either equal or below 2 °C .

Only Royal Dutch Shell has a pledge that ‘aims to reduce its Net Carbon Footprint by around half by 2050 and by around 20% by 2035 as an interim step’. Yet the USS has voted repeatedly against shareholder proposals for Royal Dutch Shell to set targets to below 2 °C as aligned with the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

On Monday, the 24th, Sophie and I as members of Extinction Rebellion at Cardiff University, met with UCU representatives/environmental officers to discuss a joint collaboration with them to raise further awareness on this issue.

Many Universities such as Cardiff University have announced a Climate emergency and have gone on a bid to find ways to reduce their impact on climate change, yet many academics are unaware that by having their funds with USS they are adding to the climate issue.

Recently the  UCU (University College Union) strikes have flared up again. This has led to Universities across the UK, including my own Cardiff University, to have many lectures and functions disrupted.

On the pension side, the reason for the strikes have been summarised by the Cardiff Students Union website:

  • The overall USS pension fund has been valued with a significant deficit – meaning the projection of future money in the pot does not meet the money promised to future pensioners. The valuation methodology used has been highly contested by UCU.
  • Proposed pension changes to reduce this pension deficit gap propose both the employers (Universities) and members (University Staff) to contribute more money, with less money paid out to members in retirement than the current scheme offers.
  • Two years ago, a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) was formed to reassess the pension fund valuation made up of experts from Universities UK (UUK) and UCU. The second phase of the panel has two parts; the first is concerned with the valuation process and governance, the second with the long-term sustainability of the scheme.
  • The lack of agreement has led to further strike actions planned over the proposed changes.

Strikers need to be made aware of USS and the Climate issue, and they should also be protesting for USS to divest away from Fossil fuels!

USS have ethical investments and their Research team should be looking into alternatives. Investing in Fossil Fuels could actually negatively impact USS in the future both financially and ethically, and to help protect the planet we should prevent further investments in industries that are harming the environment.

To learn more about this look at these links.

The USS explain: The Divestment Debate

Find out all the details on the USS issue and how to ethically invest in your pension at: Divestuss

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Alexia J. Barrett

I am a Creative Writer, Indie Author, Podcast Host, and Development Researcher. I’m also an aspiring filmmaker and I’m working towards becoming a self-shooting Producer and Director.

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