• Atmospheric CO2 /Parts per Million /Annual Averages /Data Source: noaa.gov

  • 1980338.91ppm

  • 1981340.11ppm

  • 1982340.86ppm

  • 1983342.53ppm

  • 1984344.07ppm

  • 1985345.54ppm

  • 1986346.97ppm

  • 1987348.68ppm

  • 1988351.16ppm

  • 1989352.78ppm

  • 1990354.05ppm

  • 1991355.39ppm

  • 1992356.1ppm

  • 1993356.83ppm

  • 1994358.33ppm

  • 1995360.18ppm

  • 1996361.93ppm

  • 1997363.04ppm

  • 1998365.7ppm

  • 1999367.8ppm

  • 2000368.97ppm

  • 2001370.57ppm

  • 2002372.59ppm

  • 2003375.14ppm

  • 2004376.96ppm

  • 2005378.97ppm

  • 2006381.13ppm

  • 2007382.9ppm

  • 2008385.01ppm

  • 2009386.5ppm

  • 2010388.76ppm

  • 2011390.63ppm

  • 2012392.65ppm

  • 2013395.39ppm

  • 2014397.34ppm

  • 2015399.65ppm

  • 2016403.09ppm

  • 2017405.22ppm

  • 2018407.62ppm

  • 2019410.07ppm

  • 2020412.44ppm

  • 2021414.72ppm

  • 2022418.56ppm

  • 2023421.08ppm

The Wiltshire Pension Fund acknowledged it failed to reduce its carbon footprint this year

Wiltshire Pension Fund at odds with Brunel over fossil fuel investments

The £3.1bn local government pension fund Wiltshire Pension Fund (WPF) is at odds with its pool Brunel Pension Partnership over its investment in fossil fuel companies, which have contributed to an increase in the funds' carbon emissions.

WPF has set itself the target of reducing its carbon footprint by 50% before 2030, but acknowledged in its latest Climate Report that the fund is currently "behind target," adding that it "does not expect that our decarbonisation journey will be completely smooth." 

The biggest factor affecting WPF's carbon performance this year has been an increase in the carbon intensity of the Global High Alpha portfolio, managed by Brunel. 

This portfolio has a target of reducing its emissions by 50%, based on a 2019 baseline, by 2030, which is consistent with a 7% year-on-year reduction. 

However, this year the portfolio’s carbon jumped significantly. WPF explained that this is primarily because of two factors.

Firstly, "the war in Ukraine has led to increased energy prices, which has meant that energy companies have gone up in value. This means that they have increased in weight in our portfolios, and with their high emissions, this has had an impact on our overall footprint," the report read.

Secondly, WPF pointed out that there is a new fossil fuel company now held in Brunel's Global High Alpha portfolio, MEG. "This high emitter has led to an increased footprint. We have tackled this issue with Brunel directly," WPF said.

In response, Brunel said that it has set a target of reducing the emissions carbon intensity (scopes 1 & 2) across listed equity and corporate bond portfolios by 50% by 2030 (from a 2019 baseline). In the case of the Global High Alpha portfolio, the 2023 RI & Stewardship Outcomes Report shows the progress of the Global High Alpha portfolio (GHA) in cutting carbon exposure by more than 40% versus its 2019 baseline.

Calls to divest

WPF is sceptical of the inclusion of oil refinery Suncor and MEG to the portfolio. In both cases, the pension fund is convinced that the inclusion of fossil fuel firms represents a a significant transition risk and has urged Brunel to sell its stake in both firms. 

When approached by Net Zero Investor, Brunel CIO David Vickers explained that the Global High Alpha portfolio is managed externally. " MEG Energy is held by one of our underlying managers that we outsource stock selection to. The manager in question is of the opinion that the company is on the path to alignment but given the challenging nature of the sector it occupies, it is a holding that we are obviously in extensive conversations with them about to fully understand their rationale and provide the appropriate challenge. As you would expect, the manager is engaging with MEG Energy management directly about their Net Zero targets, commitment to those targets, their decarbonisation strategy and importantly have set measurable milestones that will assess progress and the credibility of the end target. We of course in our dialogue with the manager are kept abreast of any stock like this that is in our escalation process" he stressed. 

MEG's share price has risen by 172% over the past five years on the back of the global energy crisis.

The inclusion of fossil fuel firms leaves WPF in a tricky position, as the UK  government is intent on pooling all listed LGPS assets by 2025, leaving administering authorities with little room to adopt their equity portfolios.

Vickers emphasised that Brunel exists to meet the investment objectives of all clients, with many being at different stages in their net zero journey. " We are a partnership and act as such, our policies and actions must be consensually agreed. We are in regular dialogue with all Brunel clients to ensure the implementation of the policy meets the level of ambition on climate and other objectives and there are other options for clients to utilise in order meet their objectives as they evolve" he explained.

Net Zero Investor's Annual Conference | 11th December 2023 | London

In order to turn things around, WPF said it will look at individual holdings which have a high carbon footprint to "understand" their position in its portfolio, "to be assured that they can be a valid part of our journey to net zero." 

Also, the retirement scheme said it is taking a "top-down" approach, explaining that "we look at portfolios as a whole, and ensure that the managers for those portfolios are doing enough to challenge the companies they hold and to meet the decarbonisation targets which they have set."


"If the fund is invested in companies which aren’t prepared to adapt to the challenging landscape of the future, these companies will likely fail and the Fund will lose money."

Chris Moore, investment and accounting team Lead at WPF

Allocation target

In addition to reducing its carbon footprint across listed asserts, WPF has committed to allocating 30% of the fund to sustainable and low carbon green assets in two years time, and 35% by 2030.

The fund said that a new 7% allocation to climate solutions and renewable infrastructure "is in the process of being implemented" following its triennial investment strategy review.

"This portfolio looks to benefit from the investment opportunities arising from the transition to net zero across listed and unlisted asset classes," it added.

The fund added that its Pensions Committee has completed several training sessions on responsible investment, including climate change
related topics such as impact investing and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As one of the first adopters of the global Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework, WPF is the retirement scheme's third annual climate update.

The fund called this year's report "a significant milestone, with several new insights that bring our journey towards net-zero to life."

In addition to the above-mentioned emission reduction target, the fund said it is working to meet a listed equities carbon reduction target of
43% by 2025 and 69% by 2030.


"We are currently slightly behind target, but as mentioned above we expect that our decarbonisation journey will not be completely smooth."

WPF's latest climate update

WPF's latest climate report comes only weeks after Net Zero Investor reported that the local government pension fund joined forces with Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire pension funds backing £330 million in commitments to the Wessex Gardens fund, managed by Schroders Greencoat.

All six funds are part of Brunel Pension Partnership, a £35 billion pool managing the assets of ten local authority pension fund.

Wiltshire Pension Fund alone committed £100 million to the strategy.

The mandate is focused on delivering local impact, targeting investments in renewable energy in the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Avon, Cornwall, Devon, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire.

It said it plans to target investments in a wide range of renewable energy technologies, including in traditional sectors of solar PV and wind, and innovative energy transition sub-sectors such as battery storage and green hydrogen production

The launch of this South-West focused strategy follows the launch of Greencoat Cornwall Gardens LP launched in 2022; a tailored fund targeting renewable assets in Cornwall supported by Cornwall Pension Fund and Brunel.

Also read
PPF’s Claire Curtin: ‘Engagement is our main climate risk management tool’

Content Tags: Pensions  Emissions  In-Brief 

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