December 10, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn becomes 100th MP to back fossil free pension fund

Interviews with MPs and Divest Parliament spokespeople available

JEREMY CORBYN BECOMES 100TH MP TO SUPPORT MPS PENSION FUND GOING FOSSIL FREE

On the eve of an international summit on climate finance, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell become the latest high-profile names to urge the Parliamentary Pension Fund to divest from oil, coal and gas companies.

London, 11 December 2017 — A cross-party group of one hundred MPs and former MPs are calling on their £612 million pension fund to remove its investments in fossil fuels, as Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell become the 99th and 100th MPs to sign the Divest Parliament pledge.

Corbyn and McDonnell join MPs from the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the SNP, the SDLP and Plaid Cymru, who are showing leadership on climate change by calling on the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) to “uphold its fiduciary duty and take the financial risks of climate change seriously” by disclosing and limiting its exposure to fossil fuels.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party and MP for Islington North said:

‘Two years on from the historic Paris Agreement, our country must show leadership in confronting the existential threat posed by climate change. One contribution we can make as MPs is to end the investment from our pension fund in fossil fuel industries, which is why I have signed the pledge. To help protect our planet, we must wean our economy off its fossil fuel dependence and do more to move towards clean and renewable energy.’

First signed and championed by Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and Green Party Co-Leader in 2016, other recent signees of the Divest Parliament pledge include Labour MPs Rebecca Long-Bailey, David Lammy and Harriet Harman, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb and SNP MP Ian Blackford.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion said:

‘Preventing catastrophic and irreversible climate change means leaving the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground. By divesting our own pension fund from fossil fuels, MPs can come together to demonstrate to the public that we are committed to a just transition towards a low-carbon economy. It’s utterly unacceptable that the Parliamentary Pension Fund remains so opaque, and that MPs’ savings continue to fuel climate chaos. We need real transparency, and an ethical policy which ensures that our investments do not cause harm for the sake of short term profit.’

The 100 milestone comes as 50 heads of state, including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, arrive in Paris for an international summit on climate change and the mobilization of climate finance hosted by President Macron of France. It marks the two year anniversary of the UK government joining nearly 200 nations in signing the Paris Agreement. To meet the commitment to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C, with the aspirational target of 1.5°C, scientists have warned the vast majority of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.

Despite this agreement, and cross-party support for the UK Climate Change Act, the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) continues to invest millions of pounds of MPs’ pensions in fossil fuel companies, including £5.6 million in BP and £4.9 million in Shell. Both companies are among the fund’s top 20 holdings – along with mining firm Rio Tinto, British American Tobacco and Amazon – which were made public for the first time in March 2017. The pension fund has to date been unwilling to make public the full list of its investments.

With the value of fossil fuel companies’ stock based on their entire fossil fuel reserves–not just the small percentage that can safely be burned without triggering disastrous levels of global warming–these investments are not only environmentally destructive, but represent a significant financial risk. Meanwhile, the industry continues to funnel billions every year to find and develop yet more fossil fuel reserves.

The 100 pledges follow the efforts of thousands of citizens across the UK, who have written to and met with MPs from across the political spectrum, urging them to demonstrate their commitment to protecting our society and shared environment from the risks associated with burning and investing in fossil fuels.

Contact:

Daniel Selwyn (07944458896, [email protected]) or Danielle Paffard (07979817888, [email protected])

Notes to Editors:

  • Full list of signed MPs can be found here. The full Divest Parliament pledge can be found here.  From 50 pledges in May, MP support for the campaign has doubled in just over half a year.
  • ‘Divest Parliament’ is a campaign working with MPs from across the political spectrum to address the financial, environmental and moral risks related to their pension investments in fossil fuels.
  • The campaign asks the Pension Fund to ‘quantify, review and disclose its investments in carbon-intensive industries, engage in a dialogue with fund members and publicly commit to phasing out fossil fuel investments over an appropriate time-scale.’ This can be done by immediately freezing any new investment in the top 200 largest fossil fuel companies by reserves, and divesting from fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds over 5 years.
  • To date over 800 institutions across the globe representing funds worth over $5 trillion have made some form of divestment commitment. They include universities, faith and medical institutions, cities such as Seattle, Melbourne and Berlin, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune, as well as big financial players such as Norway’s sovereign wealth fund.
  • Over 100 institutions in the UK have now committed to divest, including a third of all UK Universities, The British Medical Association, The Church of England (partial commitment), The Guardian Media Group and several Local Government Pension Funds.
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