A cross-party group of MSPs and former MSPs, including a former SNP Minister and a former Labour Party Leader, have joined forces to speak out about the Scottish Parliament’s role in financing climate change.
The group are calling on the Scottish Government and Parliament to end investment in fossil fuel companies, as a response to the climate emergency. (1)
A committee of MSPs meets on Tuesday to discuss the Parliament’s pension fund. The fund currently has no ethical policy and invests over £1 million in oil, gas and coal companies – despite the Parliament’s claim to be tackling climate change.
Claudia Beamish MSP, Scottish Labour said:
“Scottish Labour is serious about tackling the climate emergency, and fundamentally understands that sustainable investment will be key in delivering on our ambitions for a net zero economy. We’re in the midst of a climate crisis, but investment in green jobs has plummeted in the UK and jobs in renewable energy are being lost overseas. This challenge needs an urgent response at all levels.
“The time has come for the Scottish Government and Parliament to begin ethical environmental investments for a sustainable future, for workers, communities, children, and grandchildren. This leadership and solidarity will give assurance that, when planned for over an appropriate timescale, we can all confidently see divestment from fossil fuels, and positive investment in a just transition to a net zero emissions economy and society.”
Alison Johnstone MSP, Scottish Green Party said:
“Fossil fuels are fuelling the breakdown of our climate and have no future on a safe planet. As politicians we should be leading the way on the transformation of our economy into one that delivers prosperity without costing lives and destroying our precious environment. As MSPs we need to use our pension funds to back this change, and that means divesting from fossil fuels. I hope support for this campaign sends a strong message to the Pension Trustees that now is the time for them to go fossil free.”
Alex-Cole Hamilton MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrats said:
“The climate crisis is leading to rising sea levels, increased spread of disease, and extreme weather, threatening livelihoods around the world – and we cannot wait any longer to tackle it. We need strong, committed and cross-party action to move away from high-polluting fossil fuels and invest in renewable alternatives. I am therefore delighted to join my fellow MSPs in supporting the Divest Scotland pledge.”
Marco Biagi, SNP, was Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment 2014-2016. He said:
“Pensions need to be funded through safe, long-term investments but I won’t be collecting mine until a decade after Scotland aims to be carbon neutral. We need to get fossil fuels out of the retirement portfolio long before that. The industry can’t go on like it is, and, if it does, the consequences for everyone in the world will be dire. If we have energy investments they should only be in renewables – it’s both the responsible and the sensible choice.”
Environmental campaigners celebrated the MSPs’ pledges, many of which have been secured by the efforts of local activists.
Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland divestment campaigner said,
“People across Scotland are demanding urgent action to address the climate emergency. MSPs can respond by putting their own house in order, divesting their own pension fund from fossil fuels and making a commitment to investing in a just transition to a zero-carbon economy. This simple, practical step by MSPs would send a strong message that they are willing to bank on a greener Scotland that’s fairer and healthier for people and planet.”
The Divest Scotland Campaign launched today and supported by Friends of the Earth Scotland, is calling on the Scottish Government and Parliament to divest from fossil fuels.
* The MSPs pension fund invests at least £1 million in oil, gas and coal companies including Shell, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.
* The Scottish Government is yet to announce an ethical policy for the new Scottish National Investment Bank. Without one, it could be lending to companies wrecking the climate, undermining the work of the Parliament in other areas.
A similar campaign in the UK Parliament calling for divestment of the Westminster Pension Fund has been backed by over 250 MPs including 33 out of 35 SNP MPs. (2)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently declared a “Climate Emergency” in her speech to the SNP Conference, but has not explained whether the Scottish Government’s policy reviews in light of this will address investments in fossil fuel firms.
Over 1,000 organisations globally have made commitments to divest from fossil fuels with a combined worth of $8.77 trillion. 10 commitments have come from Scottish organisations, including the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. (3)
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Divest Scotland Campaign is calling on the Scottish Government and Parliament to divest from fossil fuels.
14 MSPs and 1 former MSP have signed as follows:
Alex Cole-Hamilton / Liberal Democrat / Edinburgh Western
Alison Johnstone / Scottish Green Party / Lothian
Andy Wightman / Scottish Green Party / Â Lothian
Claudia Beamish / Scottish Labour / South Scotland
Claire Baker / Scottish Labour / Mid Scotland and Fife
Daniel Johnson / Scottish Labour / Edinburgh Southern
Jackie Baillie / Scottish Labour / Dumbarton / West Scotland
Jenny Marra / Scottish Labour / North East Scotland
John Finnie / Scottish Green Party / Highlands & Islands
Iain Gray / Scottish Labour / East Lothian / South Scotland
Marco Biagi / Scottish National Party / former MSP for Edinburgh Central
Mark McDonald / Independent / Aberdeen Donside
Patrick Harvie / Scottish Green Party / Glasgow Rhoda Grant / Scottish Labour / Highlands & Islands
Ross Greer / Scottish Green Party / West Scotland
The pledge reads: ˜I pledge to support the Scottish Government and Parliament divesting from fossil fuels and investing in a just transition to a zero carbon economy over an appropriate time-scale.”
For more information visit: https://foe.scot/campaign/divestment/
2. More than 250 MPs across all parties have signed the Divest Parliament Pledge https://gofossilfree.org/uk/divest-parliament/
3. Overview of global divestment commitments https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/commitments/
4. 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.