Analysis published by Friends of the Earth Scotland today reveals that the Scottish Parliament Pension Fund has over £2 million invested in fossil fuels, and a further £1 million in arms and tobacco (1).

 

Friends of the Earth Scotland will be asking MSPs and other scheme members to:

 

1. Ask the Scottish Parliament Pension Scheme to introduce a robust policy to invest sustainably and divest from fossil fuels, arms and tobacco.

 

2. Back moves to give pension fund members across Scotland more control over the way money is invested on their behalf.

 

Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

 

“Scotland has world-leading climate targets and will reach an important milestone in cutting carbon emissions next year when we stop burning coal for electricity. However, the Parliament pensions continue to invest in companies like BHP Billiton, whose mines are destroying communities in a relentless drive to get more coal out of the ground.”

 

“Pensions funds exist to sustain us for the future. MSPs should challenge their pension fund to contribute to a future that’s worth living in.”

 

This weekend Friends of the Earth Scotland is shedding light on one of the worst companies on the Scottish Parliament fund’s books: UK-based mining company BHP Billiton.

 

Samuel Arregoces is from the village of Tabaco, a community of small-scale farmers of African descent which was brutally evicted in 2001 to make way for expansion of the massive Cerrejon opencast coal mine, now jointly owned by BHP Billiton. Danilo Urrea, CENSAT (Friends of the Earth Colombia), campaigns to reform the Colombian Government’s mining policies.

 

Danilo and Samuel came to the Scottish Parliament to speak out about its investments in fossil fuels.

 

Samuel said: “The story of the coal mining in Colombia has been 30 years of destruction, 30 years of sadness, 30 years of pain.

 

“The mining company has privatised our water. The little water we have is under their territorial control. We cannot grow on our land and the little land we have left is contaminated. We cannot live a healthy life; the water, rivers and streams and waters are polluted. We are uprooted.”

 

Danilo said: “One person in La Guajira can use less than 1 litre of water per day. The Cerrejon mine uses more than 30million litres in a single day.

 

“The extractive industries are not sustainable; they create voluntary systems that pretend to be sustainable, but really the negate the rights of the communities.

 

“The investments from the likes of pension funds leave us with a big problem, which is the financialisation of nature.”

 

The Scottish Parliament Pension Fund also invests in tobacco companies who are attacking public health legislation – British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco are currently taking the UK Government to court for revenues lost over the cigarette packaging ban and Rolls-Royce, who are involved in the

replacement of Trident submarines.

 

The Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme provides benefits to MSPs and office holders of the Scottish Parliament, including the Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

 

Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland concluded: “Danilo and Samuel’s case is just one example of the damage MSPs money is doing to communities in the global south.

 

“We need to hold companies like BHP Billiton to account for these injustices. MSPs can do this by publicly turning away from fossil fuel companies like BHP Billiton and directing much needed investment to social housing and clean energy.”

ENDS

 

Notes to Editors

Royalty-free and print-media quality photos of Danilo and Samuel outside the Scottish Parliament available at this web address: https://www.flickr.com/photos/friendsoftheearthscotland/albums/72157659727777810

 

1. Estimated investments in 2015:

Fossil fuels total: £2,140,023

Arms total: £586,841

Tobacco total: £473,987

BHP Billiton: £270,850

For detailed data and information about sources download the PDF briefing at this web address: http://bit.ly/1OOt6O0

 

2. The Divest Scotland campaign is part of a growing international movement calling on institutions to divest (sell their shares) from fossil fuels to take action against catastrophic climate change. For more information visit www.foescotland.org.uk/divest

3. Danilo and Samuel will be speaking in Glasgow today (Sunday 25th October) as part of the Divest Scotland tour. More information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1498052343844870
4. Last week the pension fund of the Environment Agency for England announced its intention to reduce its investments in fossil fuels.

This follows similar action by the Norwegian Government pensions and the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

 

5. 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.