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MSP pension fund targeted for fossil fuel investment

written by Bella Palmer
pension-fund

An £86m pension scheme for MSPs has invested nearly £1m in fossil fuel companies

An £86m pension scheme for MSPs has invested nearly £1m in fossil fuel companies which campaigners are driving climate breakdown.

Analysis of the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme by Friends of the Earth Scotland based on a freedom of information request shows that the estimated fossil fuel investment is £923,585 – nearly £7,160 for each of the 129 MSPs.

With Glasgow due to host the Cop26 UN climate conference later this year environmental campaigners are calling on local authorities to divest from fossil fuels.

The Scottish Parliament’s pension fund was found to have an estimated £733,000 stake in BHP, a major coal, oil and gas producer.

The investigation was launched in January by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries - after complaints were filed simultaneously in Australia, Ireland, Switzerland and the UK by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN).

In February, it emerged that Scottish local authority pensions have more than £1.2bn invested in fossil fuels companies.

Scotland’s council pension funds are valued at £48bn, which “constitutes the country's largest public store of wealth” according to the Friends of the Earth Scotland report.

Now the environmental group say that some 34 of the current crop of MSPs who are not standing for re-election, with some nearing retirement will be able to collect their Parliamentary pension that will have, in part, been financed via fossil fuel companies.

The group says that in recent years the Parliament Pension fund had previously invested in oil giants Shell and BP, as well as tobacco and arms companies. It has no ethical policy to prevent such investments.

While a board of MSPs oversees the fund, they defer day to day investment decisions to the external company, Baillie Gifford, who Friends of the Earth say have made clear that they can offer fossil fuel free funds to the fund if the switch was requested.

Over 20 of the 2016-21 MSPs pledged their support for moves to end fossil fuel investments.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s divestment campaigner Ric Lander said: In the last Scottish Parliament MSPs took important steps to address climate pollution. Yet as they retire, their pensions will be drawn from polluter profits. It can’t be right for our lawmakers to require climate emissions cuts across the country whilst at the same time they invest in companies that are seeking to increase production of harmful fossil fuels.

The vast majority of coal, oil and gas reserves must remain in the ground if global heating is to be limited to the levels pledged by the world’s governments. By continuing to pour money in climate polluters, investors are gambling that climate policies will fail, Lander said.

Lander said the Welsh Parliament has divested from fossil fuels, as have the Irish State investment bank. The Scottish Parliament can do the same, backing a just transition away from fossil fuels that supports green jobs, not pollution. With the limelight squarely fixed on Scotland in this special year of the UN climate talks, bold action against polluters can help start a ripple effect that brings the world closer to a healthy, clean and just economy.

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