Campaigners staged a protest outside Edinburgh City Chambers on Friday (24 November) to call on the Lothian Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels. The protest marked one year since Edinburgh City Council voted in favour of divestment, but the fund has still not enacted the request.

Lothian Pension Fund has at least £350 million invested in the fossil fuel industry, according to new analysis by Platform and Friends of the Earth Scotland. This is a significant increase from the £229 million investment it held when the research was last conducted in October 2021.

Lothian Pension Fund is the second biggest fossil fuel investor of all the council pension funds in Scotland. It invests in some of the world’s biggest climate polluters, including Exxon Mobil, Shell, Equinor, TotalEnergies and BP. 

With virtually all oil and gas companies set to expand their operations, campaigners are calling on the Lothian Pension Fund to listen to councillors and stop funding fossil fuels.

The protest highlighted the role French oil giant TotalEnergies – that Lothian Pensions have investments worth £19 million in – is playing in worsening the climate crisis and threatening human rights. 

TotalEnergies is currently developing the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, stretching 1444 km across Uganda and Tanzania. Building this pipeline is displacing communities and destroying livelihoods in Africa in order to pump oil out of the continent to be consumed by people living in the global north. 

John Hardy from Divest Lothian said: “It’s extremely disappointing that as the climate crisis worsens, the Lothian Pension Fund has failed to follow the democratic will of the council to divest from the fossil fuel companies that are driving climate breakdown. In particular, their investments in TotalEnergies and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline harms our climate and puts local communities and important ecosystems at risk. 

“The Lothian Pension Fund needs to listen to the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians and divest from all fossil fuel companies immediately. Our future is at stake, and we cannot afford to wait any longer.”

Sophie Burgess from Global Justice Edinburgh Youth Collective said: “We need to Stop EACOP for my future, the future of people in Uganda and Tanzania and the future of people globally. We cannot allow pensions to continue to fund fossil fuel giants like TotalEnergy, who are continuing to threaten all our futures with devastating projects like the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.”

The Lothian Pension Fund administers the pension funds of almost 90,000 members from the four councils in the Lothians and 59 other employers, including Scottish Water, Edinburgh Napier University, VisitScotland and Heriot-Watt University. 

The analysis covers data taken from the 2021/22 financial year. More information on the figures is available here.