Thursday, October 11, 2007

Greens slam council investment record

Press Release: Greens slam council investment record

Croydon Green Party member Bernice Golberg has slammed Croydon Council’s pension fund for its investment record.

She called on the fund to adopt ethical guidelines set out by the United Nations.

Mrs. Golberg said: “In most years, Britain ranks second only to the US in arms exports. Given the relative size of our economies, that makes us as a nation singularly dependent on this trade.”

I was shocked to see Croydon Council ranked quite so high in a recent report, including £2.5 million shareholdings in BAE Systems alone.(1)”

”BAE has not lately been a good investment whereas many green and ethical businesses have. Croydon Council’s pension fund holding of shares in BAE Systems brought them a poorer return in 2005 than if the money had been put into ethical investments. Growth in the FTSE 4 Good Global 100 index, a leading tracker of ethical investments, was more than 50 per cent greater in the past 12 months than the rise in BAE shares.”

“People who choose to invest in a principled way have been justly rewarded. If the council insists on investing unethically it should, at the very least, offer employees an ethical alternative, some will surely find BAE unacceptable – as will many voters.”

“The UK has trailed behind other European countries in developing ethically acceptable and environmentally friendly industries, undermined by attitudes such as that of the Croydon Council pension fund. This means that Britain is still lagging behind in obtaining the economic benefits that such industries are now bringing to more forward-looking countries, both in terms of job creation and return on investment.

“For instance, Denmark is home to Vestas Wind Systems, the world's biggest manufacturer of wind turbines. Vestas employs 11,900 people and has seen its share price more than double this year, from 104.5 euros to 229.

The Green Party calls on the council's pension fund to scrap its current immoral investment policy and to adopt the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.

“If Croydon Council's pension fund adopted a more ethical policy, such as the UN guidelines, it could achieve a double benefit. It would improve the fund's investment returns and, if it invested in appropriate UK companies, it could help encourage faster growth in ethical business sectors in this country.”



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