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Scottish Council pension funds found to have invested over £1.7 billion in fossil fuel companies

ByMizuho Asai

Mar 25, 2017

Scottish City Council Pension Funds have been found to have invested over £1.7 billion in fossil fuel companies, according to research published by sustainability advocacy group, Friends of the Earth Scotland (FotES)

According to the report, Scotland’s city councils continue to invest in the companies most responsible for climate change, holding a £1,683 million stake in fossil fuel companies through their pension funds.

4.8 per cent of the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme is invested in fossil fuels, which amounts to £3,300 for every shareholder. £543 million is directly invested in oil and gas and £113 million in coal. The majority of holdings, £1,046 million, were invested through intermediaries. 

Ric Lander, co-author of the report and divestment campaigner at FotES, said in a press release: “Council pension funds have huge clout and can shape our future. It’s time they used this power to invest in a future worth living in.”

“Divesting from fossil fuels is an opportunity to contribute to a brighter future and put money back into local economies. That would be good news for fund members and good news for all of us.” 

FotES’s report, entitled ‘Scottish Council Pensions for a Future Worth Living In’, found that only three councils had actively invested in socially and environmentally beneficial projects.

The Strathclyde, Falkirk and Lothian Pension Funds invested a combined £234 million in renewable energy and social housing – however, this investment represents only 0.7 per cent of the Scotland-wide scheme’s value. 

Despite these statistics, the Scottish Government has been working to produce new legislation to successfully reduce the country’s carbon emissions over the last 10 years.

Speaking to the public last year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hailed the Paris Agreement of 2015 as a “historic agreement that sends a signal of certainty about the global economy’s low carbon future.”

According to Lander, however, Scottish citizens need to be further educated on what their representatives are doing on a more local level, so that they can be better informed as voters.

“With Scotland going to the polls for local elections in May we want to see prospective councillors getting serious about responsible investment.

“Only three councils have any investments in social housing and renewable energy in Scotland despite strong returns available and many local benefits of these schemes. The majority of council pensions are invested in stocks and shares, which bring few tangible local benefits,” Lander said in the press release.

Image: kishjar

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