MPs call for parliament’s pension fund to divest from fossil fuels
More than a third of British MPs have called on their own pension fund to phase out its investments in fossil fuels ahead of a “historic” parliamentary debate on the subject.
The £700m Parliamentary Pension Fund currently holds £11.68m worth of shares in BP – its largest single holding – and also has £10.95m invested in Royal Dutch Shell.
This is despite the Bank of England warning that climate change could wipe up to $20trn (£16trn) off the value of global assets, putting millions of people’s pension savings at risk.
But 250 MPs have now signed up to the ‘Divest Parliament’ campaign – including party leaders Jeremy Corbyn, Vince Cable, Heidi Allen – ahead of a debate this afternoon on the risks of pensions investing in fossil fuels.
"The climate emergency demands that all pension funds divest from fossil fuels and invest in positive solutions to the climate crisis," said Brighton MP, Caroline Lucas, who spearheads the Divest Parliament campaign.
"It’s time MPs joined the majority of universities, numerous faith groups and a growing number of local authorities in saying we can no longer use our pension funds to gamble with people’s lives and with the future of the planet."
If the Parliamentary Pension Fund does divest from fossil fuels, it would join the more than 1000 funds worth over $8.7trn globally that have already made divestment commitments.
These include the Irish National Infrastructure Fund, the Greater London Authority’s Pension Fund, and the New York City Pension fund.
This comes after a UN report last year warned that limiting global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels would require “unprecedented changes” in all aspects of society within the next few years.
However, it is estimated that fossil fuel companies are on course to increase their discovery of new oil and gas reserves by 30% in 2019, and currently only dedicate 13% of their spending to clean energy projects.
“By continuing to invest in fossil fuel firms, we are fuelling the fire of climate breakdown and risking another financial crash," said Kingston and Surbiton MP, Ed Davey, who secured today's debate.
"We must decarbonise capitalism. UK banks and pension funds must stop making the climate crisis worse and urgently switch to investing in clean tech to secure both our planet and people’s future pensions.”
Image credit: iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM