Climate protests as Glasgow Council refuses to change path on fossil fuel investment
Pension fund members and local residents will today (14/6/19) gather outside the Annual General Meeting of the £20 billion Strathclyde Pension Fund to protest against its investments in companies driving climate change.
The Strathclyde Pension Fund is estimated to be investing £800 million in fossil fuel companies, despite the fact that it is managed by Glasgow City Council who have recently declared a climate emergency. (1)
The SPF have blocked fund members from attending the AGM, a change of policy from 2018 when ordinary fund members and pensioners were enabled to attend and ask questions of management. The Fund has some 221,000 members in the West of Scotland including councillors, council employees such as college staff and other such as housing association employees
Groups joining the protest will include Divest Strathclyde, Extinction Rebellion Glasgow, UNISON, Fossil Free Glasgow and Frackwatch.
A number of public pension funds have pledged to divest from fossil fuels, including the Islington, Waltham Forest and Southwark Local Government Funds in London, and the City of New York Pension Fund.
Geraldine Clayton, pension fund member and protest spokesperson, said:
“The UK Climate Change Committee has recently said we must urgently tackle climate change, and that government must put the issue at the heart of their policy decisions. The Scottish Government have accepted their recommendations to fully decarbonise Scotland’s economy. This means Scotland’s future will be fossil-fuel free.
“If the Strathclyde Pension Fund does not divest it could well find itself landed with an energy portfolio containing stranded fossil fuel assets. I hope the fund managers see that the scheme is now due for an overhaul of policy to make it fit for the 21st century.”
Daniel McMahon (26) , Fossil Free Glasgow said:
“For many people my age, dealing with the trauma of climate disaster; from flooding, drought and food shortages seems like a more likely vision of the future than collecting a pension. Many of my friends are of the age where previous generations have thought about having children, though they worry about what sort of future our world is likely to allow for them.
“I don’t know what the world will look like by the time I am of pension age, whether climate chaos will have had terrible impacts on the human population and all beings on the planet. That depends on the actions of the current generation of decision makers in countries within the Global North and financial institutions, like pension funds, to prevent this nightmare from being unleashed upon us all. If the Pension Fund really cared about our future they would divest from fossil fuels.”
Ric Lander, Divestment Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said:
“People across the world are rising up to demand action on the climate emergency and its biggest culprit in fossil fuels. It can sometimes feel like this problem is far removed from our local communities when in fact many of the companies worsening climate change are owned by our local institutions, pension funds and councils here in Scotland. The good news is that this means we can all help the world break free from fossil fuels and invest in a brighter future for everyone.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. An analysis of investments by Councils shows Strathclyde Pension Fund has over £802million in fossil fuel firms. https://foe.scot/council-pensions-fuelling-climate/
2. The Strathclyde Pension Fund Annual General Meeting takes place in the Royal Concert Hall, Buchanan St, Friday 14 June.
Speakers will address a rally on the steps outside between 9.30 – 10 am:
Stephen Smellie, Unison
Jon Molyneux, Pollokshields Councillor, Scottish Green Party
Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland
Barry Dalgleish, Frackwatch
And a representative of the Scottish Youth Climate Strikes
The rally will also be livestreamed here: https://livestream.com/accounts/6163639/events/8707971
3. 15 former and current Labour, Green, Liberal Democrat and SNP MSPs have pledged support for divestment from fossil fuels. https://foe.scot/campaign/divestment/
All of Glasgow’s MPs have signed the Divest Parliament Pledge which calls for the Westminster Pension Fund to end its investment in fossil fuels. 250 MPs across all parties have now signed https://gofossilfree.org/uk/divest-parliament/
4. Overview of global divestment commitments https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/commitments/
5. Divest Strathclyde is a group of Strathclyde Pension Fund members and local people calling on the Strathclyde pension fund to divest from the fossil fuel industry and invest in environmentally and financially sustainable alternatives.
6. Friends of the Earth Scotland is
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* 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.