Pensions and climate change
The money we put aside for retirement is harming the climate
Pension funds are some of the largest investors in the world and in 2016 UK pension fund assets were greater than the national income. With the government now requiring many more workers to join a pension fund through auto-enrolment, their influence over the wider economy will only grow.
Councils are gambling on fossil fuels
Scotland's local council pension funds invest billions in oil, gas and coal
Our analysis, based on the 2016 financial year and using a list of the world’s 200 biggest extractors of fossil fuels, shows that Scottish councils currently invest £1.81 billion in fossil fuels, 4.3% of the total value of the scheme.
Councils can invest sustainably
Some council pension funds are investing in new homes and clean energy
Scotland’s communities need investment, and clearly pension fund members and local communities interests are well served by investments such as social housing and renewable energy which can bring major benefits to local areas. There are some encouraging examples of Scottish councils developing expertise and putting investment behind socially and environmentally beneficial projects.
Councils can plan for the future
Trailblazing local councils are divesting fossil fuels and investing for the future
Although a major risk to the future of our economy, the time scale over which climate change will affect our lives is, in the main, beyond the short-term focus of professional investors. Investors seeking to secure their funds need a climate change plan which ensures those managing money on their behalf don’t carry on with a business-as-usual approach.
What do fund members think?
We asked council pension fund members how they think their pensions should be invested.
Councils invest their pension funds on behalf of 505,000 members across Scotland. We asked some of them how they think their pensions should be invested.
Practical steps forward
What should local councils and national government do to clean up our pensions?
We recommend that councils which run pension funds should divest from fossil fuels by adding a commitment to exit these companies over five years to their Statement of Investment Principles, assess the wider risks posed to all companies they invest in from climate change, produce a strategy for low-carbon investment, and require their fund managers to do likewise.