£1.8 Billion Council stake in fossil fuels undermines Scottish climate effort
Data released today (9/11/17) reveal that Scottish council pension funds invest £1.8 billion (1) in fossil fuels – the industry most responsible for climate change.
The data show that between 2015-2017 Scottish council investments in fossil fuels have increased. In this period nearly all national governments signed up to the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Scottish Government has also taken measures to end the use of fossil fuel cars by 2032 and ban fracking.
* Scotland’s councils invest £1.81 billion in coal, oil and gas companies through their pension funds.
* Dumfries and Galloway was the worst offender, investing 9.4% of their entire pension fund in fossil fuels.
* Strathclyde Pension Fund, Scotland’s largest, invested £803 million in fossil fuels.
* Overall Scottish council pension investment in fossil fuels has increased by £146 million since 2015. (2)
Whilst many pension funds accept the facts of climate change they often insist that engaging directly with these companies is an effective way to tackle the problem.
Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland Divestment Campaigner, commented:
“With hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, and Pacific islanders fighting to stop their homes from sinking into the sea, the impacts of climate change are already hitting hard.
“Scotland’s councils are ignoring the realities of climate change. Their investments in deeply destructive fossil fuel companies fly in the face of Scotland’s wider efforts to phase out fossil fuel cars and ban fracking.
“Fossil fuel companies won’t be talked into dropping their core business of digging oil, gas and coal out of the ground. Councillors who oversee these funds need to take action to make their pension funds compatible with a future worth living in by divesting.
“Pension funds cannot provide for a safe future whilst investing the companies driving climate change.”
The 2017 UN Climate Change Conference, currently taking place until 27 November, is chaired by Fiji, an island nation where some villages have already been forced to move to higher lands. Up to 1.7 million people from Pacific Islands could be displaced by climate change by 2050.
George Guivalu Nacewa, Pacific Climate Warrior, Fiji (3):
“In the Pacific, the impacts of climate change are not a debate, it is our reality. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. We no longer have time to talk. Now is the time to act.”
Several councils in England have shown leadership by committing to divest from fossil fuels including Southwark, South Yorkshire and Waltham Forest.
Councillor Simon Miller (former Chair of Waltham Forest Pension Fund) said: “I am proud that Waltham Forest has committed to divest from fossil fuels. Given current pressures on Local Authority budgets, our pension funds have a key role to play, not only in making our economy greener and our communities healthier, but as driver of sustainable, future focused investment in local areas.”
Notes to Editors
1. Full data and interactive map will be available at Thursday 9 November 2017 00.01
A preview briefing is available at:
2. Scotland’s 11 local government pension funds and their investments in fossil
fuels in descending order by percentage
Local Authority Pension Fund / Total Fund Value / Fossil Fuel Investment / By
Dumfries and Galloway Pension Fund / 834,357,000 / 78,597,700 / 9.42%
Shetland Islands Pension Fund / 449,703,247 / 36,106,629 / 8.03%
Falkirk Council Pension Fund / 2,060,756,342 / 142,185,395 / 6.90%
Fife Council Pension Fund / 2,158,050,750 / 118,451,232 / 5.49%
Tayside Pension Fund / 3,427,706,412 / 183,718,657 / 5.36%
Scottish Borders Pension Fund / 655,220,426 / 30,317,010 / 4.63%
Highland Council Pension Fund / 1,762,942,027 / 80,934,459 / 4.59%
North East Scotland Pension Fund / 3,999,909,195 / 179,194,146 / 4.48%
Strathclyde Pension Fund / 19,658,803,554 / 802,759,409 / 4.08%
Lothian Pension Fund / 7,420,982,641 / 152,615,424 / 2.06%
Orkney Islands Council Pension Fund / 338,195,640 / 5,719,692 / 1.69%
Total / 42,766,627,234 / 1,810,599,752 / 4.23%
3. The Pacific Climate Warriors are a group of grassroots, frontline and indigenous community activists taking action against the impacts of climate change in the Pacific. https://haveyoursei.org/
4. In Scotland the Universities of Glasgow, Abertay, West of Scotland and Queen Margaret, along with the United Reform Church, have committed to fully divest from fossil fuels. Globally 701 institutions have made commitments, to see the full list visit www.gofossilfree.org/commitments
5. Friends of the Earth Scotland is
*Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation,
*an independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters an active local groups across Scotland,
*and part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.