Pension schemes invest £1.7bn in fossil fuel companies

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SCOTS pension schemes are investing nearly £1.7 billion in “destructive” fossil fuel corporations, it has been revealed.

An investigation by environmental groups has shown that the pension funds of 500,000 public sector workers are being invested into coal, oil and gas companies.

The multi-billion pound funds are run by 11 local authority organisations across Scotland, who employees trust with their retirement money.

But now Freedom of Information Requests have revealed how much is being channelled into major fossil fuel corporations.

Almost £2 billion has been invested in fossil fuel companies
Almost £2 billion has been invested in fossil fuel companies

 

The total tops £1.6 billion – equivalent to £311 for every resident in Scotland.

The most money – £56 million – goes to the coal and metal mining giant Rio Tinto, followed by £39 million to the UK oil company BP.

£33 million is also invested in the Italian oil firm ENI.

Critics warn the market value of fossil fuels is falling as environmental risks become more evident and action is taken to cut climate pollution.

Major Scottish bodies including Glasgow and Edinburgh universities have already moved to withdraw funds from fossil fuel firms.

Damage

Ric Lander, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Communities around the world are calling for an end to the environmental destruction that comes with coal mining, fracking and deep-sea oil.

“Our pension money shouldn’t be fuelling this damage.

“At a time when public resources are being squeezed, we should be redirecting this money to socially useful projects.”

Green MSP Alison Johnstone agreed.

“Oil, gas and coal are running out, and the fossil fuel industry is no longer a sustainable, sensible investment choice,” she said.

Kirsty Noble, a member of the Strathclyde pension fund, urged councils to take the lead.

She said: “These investments are increasingly risky and local authority funds seem to be overexposed.”

According to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, investment strategies are regularly reviewed.

A spokesman said: “Each fund needs to balance various priorities for investment together with the responsibility to ensure that they achieve a decent return.

“The picture across Scotland is more varied than has been suggested with many funds investing in environmentally responsible companies and in local infrastructure projects.”

Oil and Gas UK, which represents over 500 companies, did not wish to comment on the commercial decision of individual organisations.

But it stressed that everyone’s daily life depended on ready access to energy.

Mike Tholen, the group’s economic director, said: “Divestment of oil and gas is not the solution and will only make the challenge of meeting global energy demand all the greater.”

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