​Glasgow councillors have delayed a decision on the climate strategy of the Strathclyde Pension Fund (SPF) amid protesters’ demands to divest from fossil fuels.

Campaigners gathered outside the city chambers on Wednesday before a committee meeting after it emerged more than £700 million of council pensions had been invested in fossil fuel companies.

Officers told pension fund committee members divestment “isn’t appropriate” but councillors decided to continue the majority of climate recommendations to hear “different voices”.

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Councillors will now wait until a report is presented in September before any decision on divestment is taken.

Richard McIndoe, an SPF director, said: “We’re not sitting on our hands, we’ve done lots, we’ll do more.”

He told councillors the fund appoints external investment managers “who invest a great deal of money and resource in analysis to identify risks and opportunities”.

“We have always concluded that divestment isn’t an appropriate means to tackle any issue,” he added.

“How does a fossil fuel company get into the fund? Investment managers have decided it’s a good investment.

“To decide to divest from an investment perspective would be saying that we know better than those investment managers.”

However, cllr Richard Bell said he wasn’t “hugely convinced” by the arguments put forward against divestment.

“It does seem to clash against everything everyone else is doing. The world is taking specific actions around the climate emergency.

“And yet we’re saying it has no huge impact in terms of how we use our members’ money to invest. It seems to me to be quite a strange position for us to arrive at.”

Councillors agreed climate change should be treated as a separate risk on the fund’s risk register.

But decided to wait before agreeing the SPF should have a clear objective for its climate strategy, consider joining the UN Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance, develop extended carbon analysis, measurement and management and assess whether changes needed to be made to its investment strategy.

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After the meeting, Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “It’s welcome that councillors have refused to shut the door on divestment today. 

“However, it was concerning to hear tired and largely discredited arguments about legal duties being trotted out again.

“The councillors on the pension fund committee now have a window of opportunity before their meeting in September to engage with the evidence around what’s possible and what the science demands.”