• £2 billion invested into fossil fuel industry by Scotland’s council pension funds, new data reveals
  • The councils administering the biggest pension funds in the country have voted to divest from fossil fuels but the pension funds have not enacted this

£2 billion of Scottish council pension funds is invested in the fossil fuel industry, according to new analysis by Platform and Friends of the Earth Scotland. The funds invest in some of the world’s biggest polluters, including Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Equinor.

The new data finds that the biggest fossil fuel investor in Scotland is also the country’s single biggest local government fund. The Strathclyde Pension Fund, administered by Glasgow City Council, was found to have invested at least £618 million in fossil fuel companies.

Glasgow City Council voted to divest from fossil fuels in April 2021, yet the Strathclyde Pension Fund which manages the money has still not enacted this change.

The Lothian Pension Fund, administered by Edinburgh City Council, has at least £350 million invested in fossil fuels. Its councillors also voted in favour of divestment in November 2022, but the fund managers have not taken action to do so.

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

Sally Clark, divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“It’s unbelievable that despite clear direction from councillors, the biggest council pension funds in Scotland are still investing this obscene amount of money in fossil fuel companies that are driving climate breakdown. 

“Councils must play their part in protecting the long-term future of their employees by ending their support for oil and gas expansion and investing in building a cleaner, safer future for us all – but their attempts to do this are being blocked by the pension fund managers.

“The money moved away from fossil fuels could instead be invested in ways that support local communities and protect the planet for everyone, like renewable energy. As skyrocketing energy bills are plunging millions of people into fuel poverty across the UK, this transition is more important than ever.”

Stephen Smellie, Depute Convenor at Unison Scotland, said: 

“Fossil fuels are bad for the environment and our retirement. These dirty deals threaten the future of our environment, and needlessly risk the retirements of the hundreds of thousands of Unison members that pay into local government pension schemes. To secure a future worth retiring into, schemes should respond to members’ calls to action and dump these dated fossil fuel assets.” 

Across the UK, £16 billion of council pension funds is invested in the fossil fuel industry. Over 20% of UK councils now invest less than 1% of their fund into fossil fuels – a 10 fold increase since 2020, the last time analysis was conducted. Pension funds in Scotland still invest over 3% into fossil fuels.

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

Across the UK, local grassroots groups are demanding our communities and public institutions to cut their political, social and financial ties to the fossil fuel industry. Supporting this network is UK Divest, a collaboration between Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Platform and various partners leading in different areas of the divestment movement. You can find out more about it here: https://www.divest.org.uk