April 28, 2019

SNP MPs BACK FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT OF PENSION FUND

PRESS RELEASE FROM DIVEST PARLIAMENT AND FRIENDS OF THE EARTH SCOTLAND

Edinburgh, UK – At the SNP Spring Conference, the Divest Parliament campaign has announced that 32 MPs have called on the MP Pension Fund to stop investing in fossil fuel companies following growing concerns about their role in fuelling climate change.

The SNP MPs have signed a pledge calling for the MP Pension Fund to review and phase out fossil fuel investments [1]. The call follows growing concern among Parliamentarians about the environmental, social and financial risks posed by climate change.

The pledge has been signed by SNP MPs across Scotland, including SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford, Mhairi Black, Ronnie Cowan, Patrick Grady, Joanna Cherry and Dr. Philippa Whitford. The announcement comes as thousands of children across Scotland have participated in school strikes and Greta Thunberg visited Westminster to pressure politicians to take urgent action on climate change.

The UN’s October report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees demands additional effort from world leaders to enact rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society within the next few years to reduce carbon dioxide emissions [2]. In contrast, fossil fuel companies dedicate only 1% of their spending to clean energy projects [3] and are on course to increase their exploration for new oil and gas reserves by 30% in 2019 [4].

Deidre Brock, SNP Environment spokesperson, said:The devastating impacts of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe glaringly expose the inequalities of climate change. As the IPCC have made clear and the public are demanding: we need to take urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the worst impacts of climate change. Scotland has been playing a leading role in the UK by increasing the amount of clean energy we produce and the SNP Scottish Government is absolutely committed to investing in a sustainable and socially just future for energy industry”.

Mhairi Black, SNP Youth Affairs spokesperson said: “It has been inspiring to see so many young people taking action to show their concerns about climate change. Scotland has set itself ambitious climate protection goals, and is already rapidly scaling up renewable energy technologies. I am very pleased to join with my fellow SNP MPs in urging the UK Parliament to show climate leadership and remove their pension investments from fossil fuel companies.”

The ‘Divest Parliament’ campaign was initiated in 2014 by a small group of MPs including the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and has now been backed by over 230 MPs across all parties [5,6]. Following pressure from MPs, the Trustees of the Pension Fund have recently announced that they will produce a Climate Change Investment Policy and accept that fossil fuel companies represent long-term financial risks as the world moves towards renewables [7].

Sally Clark, Divest Parliament campaigner, said:Fossil fuel companies aren’t part of the clean energy future we need in order to stop devastating climate breakdown. Hundreds of constituents across Scotland firmly agree and have successfully convinced their MPs to sign the Divest Parliament pledge. It is very encouraging that SNP MPs are speaking out strongly about the urgent need to divest from fossil fuels in order to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.”

Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:People across the world are rising up to demand action on the climate crisis and its biggest culprit in fossil fuels. We need our leaders to respond to this call, and cleaning up their own pension funds is a great place to start. By going fossil free, investors like pension funds can help the world break free from coal, oil and gas and instead invest in a brighter future for everyone. We hope MSPs will follow the lead of their Westminster colleagues by backing the divestment in the Scottish Parliament.

If the Scottish Parliament were to commit to divesting from fossil fuels it would join the Irish National Infrastructure Fund, the New York State Pension fund and two thirds of UK universities, including Glasgow and Edinburgh [8]. Recently, the Edinburgh International Science Festival announced that it would no longer accept funding from fossil fuel companies [9]. Globally, funds over $8 trillion have made some form of divestment commitment.

ENDS

Contact details:

Tytus Murphy, Divest Parliament campaign coordinator:

[email protected], 07908 819 691

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FREE TO USE PHOTOS

A selection of high-resolution photos will be available to download, rights-free, from this folder at 1300 on Saturday 27th April, this include a group photo of SNP MPs behind a banner saying “SNP MPs back Divest Parliament” taken at the Spring Conference this weekend.

NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] Pledge text available here and full list of supportive MPs available here.

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.”

[2] The IPCC report outlined that emissions must be reduced at a much quicker rate. This requires rapid shifts away from fossil fuels and massive scaling up of investment in renewables, coverage in The Guardian.

[3] A recent report by Carbon Disclosure Project revealed that on average, fossil fuel companies allocate just 1.3 per cent of their total 2018 capital expenditure to green energy projects, coverage in The Financial Times.

[4] Consultancy firm Rystad Energy recently reported that fossil fuel companies are on pace to increase their discovery of new oil reserves by 30% in 2019, coverage on axios.com.

[5] In March 2017, it was revealed that the MPs Pension Fund invests in fossil fuels, tobacco and tax avoiders, coverage in The Independent.

[6] Annual report of the MPs Pension Fund is available here. Individual investments: BP PLC (£7.33 million), Royal Dutch Shell A (£3.67 million), Rio Tinto (£3.67 million), Royal Dutch Shell B (£2.93 million) and Total SA (£2.93 million).

[7] See coverage in The Guardian.

[8] Divestment in the Scottish Parliament – more information. To date, over 1000 institutions across the globe – representing funds worth over $8 trillion – have made some form of divestment commitment. Full list of commitments available here.

[9] A statement from the Edinburgh Science Festival said: “With the issues of climate change ever present and urgent, we feel increasingly compromised by the conflict between accepting sponsorship from fossil fuel companies and programming events that scrutinise the main causes of climate change”, as reported by Common Space.

[10] Divest Parliament is a campaign working with MPs from across the political spectrum to address the moral and financial risks related to their pension investments in fossil fuels. It pushes for responsible investment practices and to reduce the MPs pension fund’s fossil fuel exposure over an appropriate timescale – www.divestparliament.org

[11] 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.

www.foe.scot

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