300 MPs call for Parliamentary Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels
Trustees of the £700m Parliamentary Pension Fund have been urged to respond to the climate emergency by 300 MPs who have asked that the fund divests from holdings in fossil fuel companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell.
A statement has been signed by 300 MPs to place pressure on the trustees to consider the financial risks of climate change as they get set to announce a new “Climate Change Investment Policy” in November.
Those that have signed the statement include Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn; Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson; SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford and Conservative Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan. It has also been backed by 30 former MPs including Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
“We believe Members of Parliament have a responsibility to act on climate change, and a unique opportunity to show leadership on climate action, responsible investment and the management of climate risk through addressing the practices of our own pension fund,” the statement reads.
“As MPs past and present, and members of the Parliamentary Pension Fund, we call on the Trustees to uphold their fiduciary duty and take the financial risks of climate change seriously. We ask they quantify, disclose and review the fund’s investments in carbon-intensive industries, engage in a dialogue with fund members and managers on responsible investment, and commit to phasing out fossil fuel investments over an appropriate time-scale.”
Call to divest
The fund has shares totalling £11.6m in BP and £10.9m in Royal Dutch Shell. Think tank Carbon Tracker has warned that major oil and gas companies risk wasting £1.8trn ($2.2trn) on stranded assets by 2030, which will impact the shares owned by the Parliamentary Pension Fund.
The declaration is the latest call made by MPs to ensure that the fund divests from fossil fuels. Earlier this year, a third of MPs and 29 former MPs called on the fund to divest fossil fuel holdings.
The cross-party group has asked for the Parliamentary Pension Fund to disclose investments in carbon-intensive industries and commit to phasing them out.
The cross-party group has been led by Green MP Caroline Lucas, who has been lobbying the Parliamentary Pension Fund to divest its fossil fuels holdings since 2014.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion said: “The climate emergency requires that we keep fossil fuels in the ground. I’ve been calling for fossil fuel divestment for well over five years and am encouraged by the huge number of MPs who now agree that we must move our investments away from the polluting industries of the past, and instead support policies that will bring about a clean energy future”.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, the Environmental Audit Committee and major global fund managers have already warned that pensions are at risk by exposure to overvalued carbon assets as the world moves to cheaper renewables and governments legislate for net-zero emissions.