Momentum for divestment is growing in the UK, as 50 MPs standing for re-election from across the country’s four nations and main political parties add their support to the rising calls on their £612 million pension fund to end its investments in fossil fuels.
The announcement comes a month before the general election and at the beginning of the Global Divestment Mobilisation, with actions taking place in 42 countries across 6 continents calling on institutions to divest from fossil fuels.
In recent weeks, representatives from the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the SNP, the SDLP, and Plaid Cymru have all shown their leadership in tackling climate change, demanding that the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) “uphold its fiduciary duty and take the financial risks of climate change seriously” by disclosing and limiting its exposure to fossil fuels.
The 50 pledges follow the efforts of thousands of constituents to work with their elected representatives to demonstrate their commitment to protecting our economy and shared environment from the risks associated with burning and investing in fossil fuels.
Daniel Selwyn, a member of the Divest Parliament campaign said:“Climate change is perhaps the gravest threat that we as a society face today. Yet, as the human suffering multiplied by the climate crisis is being felt across the world, fossil fuel companies continue to extract huge profits from the environmental devastation they are accelerating. Any candidate asking for our vote at this election should recognise their responsibility to not only uphold the UK’s international climate commitments, but also to protect people’s jobs, pensions and livelihoods, as well as the health of our planet for future generations. We congratulate these 50 MPs for their commendable leadership on climate change and look forward to working together with more constituents and their representatives during the campaign and into the next parliament.”
The vast majority of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to avert catastrophic and irreversible climate change. In 2016, the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) invested millions of pounds of the taxpayers’ money in fossil fuel companies, including £5.59 million for BP and £4.9 million in Shell.
With the value of both companies’ stock based on their entire fossil fuel reserves–not just the small percentage that can be burned–these investments are not only at significant risk, but also incompatible with the UK government’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rise below 2°C.
Divest Parliament’s ‘carbon bubble’ action this Monday in Parliament Square at 9.00 (photos available) draws attention to this direct link between the MP pension fund’s investments in fossil fuel companies and the financial risks of these assets becoming stranded, as well as the climate impacts of these investments.
Divest Parliament is calling on all election candidates to honour the UK’s cross-party commitment to reduce our use of fossil fuels. Following pressure from constituents and MPs, the pension fund made the top 20% of its holdings public for the first time in March 2017.
Caroline Lucas (Green Party – Brighton Pavilion): “It’s so heartening that 50 members of the MP’s Pension Fund have now joined the call for it to end its support for dirty energy. Climate change is the defining issue of our time and we are already seeing its devastating impacts across the world. Politicians should be showing leadership on this issue, so it remains deeply concerning that the MP’s pension fund is supporting an industry that is fuelling the climate crisis. After two years of campaigning, I’m glad that more and more politicians, from across the political spectrum, are now recognising the huge financial risks associated with fossil fuel investments. We should be investing in the clean, renewable energy that we have in abundance, and leading the way in socially responsible investment.”
Kerry McCarthy (Labour – Bristol East):“I am pleased to have signed the pledge calling on the trustees of the Parliament Pension Fund to take the financial risks of climate change seriously and commit to divesting from fossil fuels, following the example set by Bristol City Council, Bristol University and the University of the West of England, which are all taking action towards divestment. We need to tackle this problem of fossil fuel reserves which are listed as assets, if we are to have the ability to prevent a dangerous global temperature rise above 2°C. And we need to send out the right signal to investors and companies that we are serious about making this switch. It’s up to MPs to set an example”
Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrat – North Norfolk):“Preventing catastrophic and irreversible climate change means leaving the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground. By divesting our own pension fund from fossil fuels, we as MPs can come together across party lines to demonstrate to the public not only that we are committed to a just transition towards a low-carbon economy, but also that it is wrong to profit from environmental disaster. As elected representatives, it is right that we should lead the way on the transition towards a cleaner energy future.”
Laura Sandys (Conservative Party):“It’s great to see MPs and former MPs from across the political divide come together and speak with one voice on this issue. Climate change represents a serious financial risk to pension savers and investors across the UK, and it’s incredibly frustrating to see the PCPF Trustees refusing to act on this ticking time-bomb. As well as the financial imperative, phasing out fossil fuel investments from the MP’s Pension Fund would send clear signals about the need for more urgent action on climate change here in the UK, so I wholeheartedly support this campaign.”
For more information or photos from the 8 May Carbon Bubble event please contact Daniel Selwyn, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07944458896
For interviews with:
Caroline Lucas please contact Matthew Butcher, Senior Parliamentary Press Officer, 07885 459 904
Notes to editors:
- For full list of signed MPs visit our website: https://gofossilfree.org/uk/divest-parliament/#supportive-mps
- ‘Divest Parliament’ is a campaign working with MPs from across the political spectrum to address the financial, environmental and moral risks related to their pension investments in fossil fuels.
- The campaign asks the Pension Fund to quantify, review and disclose its investments in carbon-intensive industries, engage in a dialogue with fund members and publicly commit to phasing out fossil fuel investments over an appropriate time-scale. This can be done by immediately freezing any new investment in the top 200 largest fossil fuel companies by reserves, and divesting from fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds over 5 years.
- A group of cross-party MPs and former MPs have been championing this cause and regularly corresponding with the MP’s Pension Fund on issues of climate risk and transparency since 2014. The answers given by the Pension Fund trustees, before dismissing the issue entirely at the November 2016 meeting, suggests the trustees are failing members in their understanding and management of climate risk.
- In March 2017, the PCPF’s Annual report revealed that it funnelled £5.59 million into British American Tobacco (BAT) and oil giant BP in 2015. Millions of pounds were also put into oil company Shell and controversial mining firm Rio Tinto. https://www.mypcpfpension.co.uk/docs/librariesprovider4/annual-reviews/annual-review-2016.pdf?sfvrsn=2
- Starting 5th May, a global wave of activities lasting ten days will take place across 42 countries on six continents, with thousands of people participating in the Global Divestment Mobilisation. Campaigners, faith groups, academics and impacted local communities will build on the fossil fuel divestment movement, which is now spreading in Asia, Latin America and Africa. In the UK, over 40 events will be taking place calling on local government, faith, health, cultural institutions, politicians and banks to divest from fossil fuels.
- To date, 705 institutions and some 58,000 individuals have joined the global campaign for fossil fuel divestment, representing $5.46 trillion of assets. https://gofossilfree.org/commitments/