Good news! Divest Parliament – the campaign to get our MP’s pension fund out of fossil fuels – gained its first big win this week, as the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) has made its major investments public for the first time ever!
The bad news: the PCPF’s latest Annual Report has unveiled an unethical and irresponsible investment strategy – with millions being ploughed into fossil fuel companies. In 2016, the pension fund invested £5.59 million of our MP’s money in BP, while another £4.9 million went to Shell.
Understanding where the fund is investing is an important first step, but it is just the start.
On Tuesday Green MP and party co-leader Caroline Lucas raised a ‘Point of Order’ in the House of Parliament, calling the government to account over the potential reputational damage and legal challenges it may face if it continues to invest in dirty industries.
As the fund’s Annual Report lands on MP’s desks, they will have nowhere to hide from the levels of finance going into fossil fuels.
Lucas said: “If we are to prevent the worst of climate change, then we must rapidly transition away from an economy run on fossil fuels by investing in the renewable energy that we have in abundance. It’s right that the MPs should lead the way on this transition.”
Preventing dangerous climate change means leaving 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. If our politicians are serious about climate change, they cannot be investing in the very companies at the root of the problem. Many of our MPs already get this and since October 2014 they’ve been engaging with the pension fund, asking how it was assessing and mitigating carbon risk.
MPs are starting to show strong leadership in this matter. The Trustees are ignoring them for now; but they can’t ignore them forever. Since Divest Parliament took the campaign public in December 2016, 45 MPs from across all of the UK’s main political parties have called on the pension fund to take climate change seriously.
These MPs have shown they care about the climate threat, and that they want a pension fund that is aligned with the UK’s commitment to take action. And, everyday, more and more MPs are coming on board.
But, with the discovery of the millions of pounds of MP’s money still being sunk into risky and dangerous fossil fuels, we need to build on the momentum from the last four months and get more of our politicians to publicly demand divestment.
Up and down the country constituents are taking this campaign to their MPs, talking to them about why climate change matters, why more action is needed and why we need to invest in a climate safe future.
By divesting their pension fund, MPs have an opportunity to show leadership on climate change, to reaffirm cross-party support for climate action, and to allow the MP’s Pension Fund to set a positive example on managing climate risk and responsible investment for all of our pensions.
Over the coming months we will continue to build our campaign. If you want to get involved, and would like advice and support on contacting your MP please email the Divest Parliament team at: firstname.lastname@example.org