Edinburgh and Lothian MPs Back Growing Calls for Fossil Fuel Divestment
All six Edinburgh and Midlothian MPs have spoken out about the urgent need for fossil fuel divestment citing growing concerns about climate change
In the last week, Edinburgh MPs Ian Murray (Edinburgh South, Labour), Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North & Leith, SNP), Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West, SNP), Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East, SNP), Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West, Liberal Democrats) and Danielle Rowley (Midlothian, Labour) have signed a pledge calling for the Parliamentary Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuel companies owing to growing concerns about climate change.
Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said: “We must be thinking about the future of our planet for future generations. The issue of climate change is the challenge of our time and the window of opportunity to reverse this devastating phenomenon is closing. Politicians can take the lead by signing international agreements such a Paris, Copenhagen and Kyoto but we can also do more at home. Disinvesting from industries that contribute to global warming the most would send out the message that we take this issue seriously and will set the example. It is a small step but with every small step we can make progress before it is too late.”
Deidre Brock, SNP MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said:“I support efforts to help the transition to a low carbon economy. Climate change is one of the biggest threats our planet faces – reversing the damage requires different choices and a more responsible approach to investments. Scotland is lucky to be so well placed for renewable energy resources, leading the world in technology such as wave & tidal energy. We need to take advantage of all the skills, knowledge and expertise we have as we move towards a sustainable green economy.”
Christine Jardine, Lib Dem MP for Edinburgh West, said: “The transition away from fossil fuels has never been more important. St Johns Road, which runs through my constituency, is one of the most polluted streets in Scotland. Air pollution is a silent killer and urgent action is needed to address the 40,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution in the UK each year. We have to turn the tide towards strong environmental policy, to stop climate change and protect public health. ”
The move comes as constituency members across the country are urging their local MPs to show they care about climate change by calling on their pension fund to align its investments with the UK’s legally-binding commitments to reduce global emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Ric Lander, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Our Capital’s MPs should be congratulated for joining the growing fossil free movement. Their call follows in the wake of eight organisations in Scotland committing to divest from fossil fuels, including church groups and the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. We all have a stake in how money is invested and we all have the power to demand clean investment in Scotland.”
Catrina Randall, Edinburgh resident and member of Divest Lothian – a local campaign group pressuring the Lothian Pension Fund to also drop its investments in fossil fuels – said: “Millions around the globe are already suffering the effects of climate change, and the future of fossil fuel investment is financially risky. It’s encouraging to see senior MPs calling for their pension fund to take climate change seriously by going fossil free. It doesn’t stop there though: Scotland’s local councils are also investing billions in the companies most responsible for the climate crisis. Hopefully this move by Edinburgh MPs will encourage local government to follow suit and support divestment.”
Campaigners are now moving to gain the support of local councillors, calling on the Lothian Pension Fund to divest. In 2016 the fund, administered by the City of Edinburgh Council, had £104 million invested in fossil fuel companies. In 2017 this was estimated to have increased to £153 million.
The last Annual Report for MPs Pension Fund revealed 5 out of the top 20 investments were in fossil fuel companies such as BP, Shell and Total. The investments are a stark contrast to the UK government’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to keep global warming well below 2oC.
Campaigners and climate scientists argue that keeping this commitment would mean leaving most known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. If fossil fuel companies cannot use their reserves, they become stranded assets, so there is also major financial risk for continued investment in fossil fuel companies, considering international efforts to tackle climate change.
Supported by the ‘Divest Parliament’ campaign, UK citizens have been writing to and organising meetings with their MPs to raise awareness of the issue.
For more information contact Sally Clark at divestparliamentscotland@
Notes to editors:
Divest Parliament is a campaign working with MPs from across the political spectrum to address the moral and financial risks related to their pension investments in fossil fuels. It pushes for responsible investment practices and to reduce the MPs pension fund’s fossil fuel exposure over an appropriate timescale – http://divestparliament.org/
To date, 165 current and former MPs have signed the Divest Parliament pledge and 25 of these MPs are in Scotland. Last month, it was announced that all seven Glasgow MPs have signed the pledge. The pledge has also been signed by Lord Steel of Aikwood. Full list of pledged MPs available here: https://gofossilfree.org/uk/
The 2017 Annual Report for the The Parliamentary Contributions Pension Fund showed assets under management worth £733 million. Of the top 20 holdings made publicly available by the fund, 5 of these investments are in fossil fuel companies: BP PLC (£7.33 million), Royal Dutch Shell A (£3.67 million), Rio Tinto (£3.67 million), Royal Dutch Shell B (£2.93 million) and Total SA (£2.93 million) – https://www.mypcpfpension.co.
uk/docs/librariesprovider12/ annula-reviews/pcpf-annual- review-v-12.pdf
To date, 884 institutions and some 58,000 individuals have joined the global campaign for fossil fuel divestment, representing $6.09 trillion of assets. Glasgow University was the first UK university to divest from fossil fuels and Edinburgh University recently joined them after a 4 year campaign by students – https://gofossilfree.org/
Recent analysis by Friends of the Earth Scotland has revealed that Scottish Council Pension Funds have invested £1.8 billion into fossil fuel companies. For example, Lothian Pension Fund, has invested £153 million – 2.1 per cent of its total fund – invested into fossil fuel companies – https://foe.scot/council-
The Scottish Government is currently preparing a new Climate Change Bill in response to the Paris Agreement. However, current proposals have been criticised for lacking the ambition required to meet the Paris goal of limiting average global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees. Campaigners are calling for the Bill to set stronger targets of 77% reduction by in emissions by 2030 (compared with 1990 levels) and reach net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. The Bill is expected to be published before summer recess.
Edinburgh is judged by The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to be at increased risk of coastal, river and surface water flooding as sea levels rise because of climate change, with over 3,300 residential properties and 480 non-residential properties at risk in the Water of Leith catchment area around Central and South West Edinburgh-http://apps.sepa.org.uk/