Glasgow City Council run the Strathclyde Pension Fund who serve 200,000 people in the West of Scotland. A 2015 investigation found the fund invested £752 million in fossil fuels. Image: Wikipedia

Fossil Free Strathclyde campaign just kicked off with a public meeting at Old Hairdressers, Glasgow, where those involved in the set up of the movement presented an introduction to the key components of the divestment campaign.

This is a subject that can be tackled from many angles, with arguments stemming from environmental, social, and financial benefits. All of these arguments come together to create a truly engaging call for full divestment from fossil fuels. Following the introductory presentation the meeting opened up to a general discussion and ideas about the campaign.

A number of next steps were outlined in order to increase the visibility of the campaign and to work towards gaining support both from organisations directly involved with the pension fund, and with those who share the ideals promoted by divestment. Ideas are now coming together for a number of exciting projects and events to give the campaign a wider engagement with the community as a whole.

The Strathclyde Pension Fund currently holds over £15 billion of total investments, £752 million of which is invested into fossil fuel industries. The fund is comprised of more than 200 organisations and institutions, 12 local authorities, and 200,000 members. Engaging with every organisation or individual involved with the fund is an extensive task that requires a knowledge of the individual ideals and concerns of each group.

Fossil Fuels – oil, gas and coal – are the main drivers for climate change, which affects the world’s poorest most severely and according to the World Health Organisation causes at least 150,000 deaths per year. In order to avoid even more dangerous temperature rises, the total quantity of fossil fuels burned by humanity must be capped far below the level of  reserves available.

The outcome of UN climate talks in Paris in December, has drawn a line for responsible investment, and divestment from fossil fuels. 196 nations have recognised the urgency of keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C and are aiming for 1.5°C. In order to reach this ambitious goal, 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay underground. This creates a ‘carbon bubble’ making claimed fossil fuel reserves worthless. It also makes the future of fossil fuels uncertain itself, meaning that it’s financially risky to invest in. We are already seeing great turmoil in the industry with more than 5,500 oil related jobs in Scotland are reported as lost by the Financial Times.

Following this, Fossil Free Strathclyde calls on Strathclyde Pension Funds (SPF) to immediately halt all new investments and divest all current holdings in fossil fuel companies. By stopping investments in a financially risky future, SPF would fulfil its fiduciary duty for its member groups. Furthermore, it will truly demonstrate social and environmental responsibility, that secures a stable and better future for its beneficiaries, Scotland, and the international community.

By joining other councils and public bodies across Europe that have already divested (e.g. University of Glasgow, Oxford City Council), and reinvesting in the local infrastructure, community based energy projects, SPF would enable ‘just transition’ of Scotland’s economy to a brighter future.

The Strathclyde Pension Fund covers former Strathclyde area including 12 local authorities: South, North and East Ayrshire, South and North Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East and West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde, Glasgow City, and Argyll and Bute

If you’re in these areas or just interested in helping out here’s what you can do:

By Živilė Mantrimaitė and Connie James, Fossil Free Strathclyde