The City of Edinburgh Council will today discuss a motion on sustainable investment of the Lothian Pension Fund which they claim will ensure the fund is investing responsibly in the face of the climate crisis. 

Campaigners say it doesn’t go far enough in addressing the severity and urgency of the crisis. 

Earlier this month, new research by Friends of the Earth Scotland revealed that the Lothian Pension Fund, administered by City of Edinburgh Council, invests £229 million in fossil fuel companies. This includes companies such as BP, Shell, and Exxon Mobil, which are some of the largest contributors to the climate crisis. 

Divest Lothian is calling on the City of Edinburgh Council to commit to tackling the growing climate crisis by divesting from fossil fuels as soon as possible. This would ensure that members’ pensions are not exposed to unnecessary financial risk while supporting the council’s climate commitment to be net zero by 2030.

Susan Hamilton, campaigner for Divest Lothian says:

“It’s a step in the right direction that Edinburgh Council is discussing the possibility of divestment from coal, oil, and gas by 2025, but behind the technical language is a failure to address the urgency of the Climate Emergency that they declared. The current motion does not provide a guarantee that fossil fuel investments will be sold – and certainly not in the timeframe demanded by science.

  “A new UN Report reveals that the world is currently on track for a catastrophic 2.7 degree rise in global temperatures unless we drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s vital this happens quickly.

 “If the fund is not removing money from fossil fuel companies, it and the council are failing. There is evidence that funds which have divested perform as well, if not better, than ones still invested in fossil fuels.” 

On Tuesday, one of the world’s largest pension funds, Dutch fund ABP, announced plans to divest its €15bn of holdings in fossil fuel companies and projects within 18 months, in a move which comes less than a week before the UN Climate Summit, COP26, in Glasgow. The global divestment commitment stands at $39.2trn.

Earlier this year, Glasgow City Council announced it would seek to end the Strathclyde Pension Fund’s estimated £800 million investment in fossil fuels.

A UK-wide day of action against local government investment in fossil fuels will take place during COP26 on 3 Nov.

The Motion tabled by Councillor Munn (11.8) is available to view here: https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=150&MId=6007 

Lothian Pension Fund’s fossil fuel investments: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/19630272.green-lothian-pension-fund-fire-40-rise-fossil-fuel-investment/

The Lothian Pension Fund is the second largest local government pension scheme in Scotland and administers the pension funds of over 84,000 members from The City of Edinburgh Council and three other local authorities in the Lothians. The pension fund also manages the pensions of 90 employers, including Scottish Water, Edinburgh Napier University, Lothian Buses and Heriot-Watt University. https://www.lpf.org.uk/us 

Employer members of the Lothian Pension Fund: https://www.lpf.org.uk/downloads/file/155/audited-annual-report-and-accounts-2021 

UN Emissions Gap Report warning that the world is on course for a catastrophic 2.7 degree rise in global temperatures: https://www.unep.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2021 

One of the world’s largest pension funds, Dutch Fund ABP, commits to divesting its €15bn-worth of holdings in fossil fuel companies (26/10/21): https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/26/abp-pension-fund-to-stop-investing-in-fossil-fuels-amid-climate-fears 

Global divestment announcement (26/10/21): https://www.edie.net/news/7/Global-fossil-fuel-divestment-movement-surpasses–39trn-as-cities-and-faith-groups-unveil-new-commitments/

Global divestment commitments: https://divestmentdatabase.org 

Glasgow City Council divestment vote (April 2021): https://foe.scot/press-release/climate-activists-celebrate-glasgow-city-council-support-for-campaign-to-end-500-million-fossil-fuel-investment/