MPs demand fossil fuel divestment for pension fund

Fifty MPs standing for re-election, including the Green Party's Caroline Lucas and the Conservative Party's Laura Sandys, have called for their £612m pension fund to sever investment ties with fossil fuels.

Representatives from the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the SNP, the SDLP and Plaid Cymru have all demanded that the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) discloses its exposures to fossil fuels with a view to divesting.

The Green Party’s MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas said: “It’s so heartening that 50 members of the MP’s Pension Fund have now joined the call for it to end its support for dirty energy. Climate change is the defining issue of our time and we are already seeing its devastating impacts across the world.

“Politicians should be showing leadership on this issue, so it remains deeply concerning that the MP’s pension fund is supporting an industry that is fuelling the climate crisis. After two years of campaigning, I’m glad that more and more politicians, from across the political spectrum, are now recognising the huge financial risks associated with fossil fuel investments. We should be investing in the clean, renewable energy that we have in abundance, and leading the way in socially responsible investment.”

Campaign pressures

The value of investment funds committed to divesting away from fossil fuel firms and assets doubled in 2016 to $5.2trn. The movement was originally started on university campuses, but commercial investments and pension funds now account for 80% of the total.

Due to pressure from MPs and constituents, the pension fund publicised 20% of its holdings for the first time last month. In 2016, the PCPF invested £5.56m into BP and £4.9m into Shell.

According to the Divest Parliament campaign, these investments are incompatible with the UK Government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. Divest Parliament is calling on all election candidates to adhere to a cross-party commitment to reduce usage of fossil fuels.

Divest Parliament’s member Daniel Selwyn said: “Any candidate asking for our vote at this election should recognise their responsibility to not only uphold the UK’s international climate commitments, but also to protect people’s jobs, pensions and livelihoods, as well as the health of our planet for future generations.”

Conservative MP-turned sustainability consultant Laura Sandys, who used to work as the Parliamentary Private Secretary for former Energy Minister Greg Barker, warned that the PCPF was a “ticking time-bomb”. Specifically, Sandys urged MPs to look at the financial imperative alongside the climate change implications.

Sandys was a guest on edie’s Sustainable Business Covered podcast in March. The co-founder of POWERful Women – an organisation dedicated to ensuring that women have equal access to senior executive positions in the energy sector – discussed how women continue to face “ceilings and barriers” in energy management.

Matt Mace

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