Over 100 MPs call on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to drop investments in oil, coal and gas companies.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is among a cross-party group of over 100 MPs and former MPs(1) who demand that their £612 million MPs’ Pension Fund removes its substantial holdings from fossil fuel companies to reflect their concerns about climate change. The fund currently holds a £5.6 million stake in BP and £4.9 million in Shell.
Two years on from the Paris Agreement, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell became the 99th and 100th MPs to sign the Divest Parliament pledge(2). MPs are responding to a rising call for divestment, with over 800 organisations and investors worth over $5 trillion having already committed to divest from fossil fuels(3).
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“Two years on from the Paris agreement, and with the devastating impacts of climate change already apparent, there is no room for continued investment in companies whose business is incompatible with our climate obligations.
“It is vital that MPs show leadership on positive solutions to tackle climate change which benefit society and our constituents. I am therefore proud to support the call for my pension fund to divest from fossil fuels.
“If we could instead invest this money in renewable energies, we can really make a difference in shifting from fossil fuels and supporting more sustainable energy sources contributing even less towards industries including fracking, which could particularly affect us here in West Lancashire.”
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party and MP for Islington North said:
“Two years on from the historic Paris Agreement, our country must show leadership in confronting the existential threat posed by climate change. One contribution we can make as MPs is to end the investment from our pension fund in fossil fuel industries, which is why I have signed the pledge. To help protect our planet, we must wean our economy off its fossil fuel dependence and do more to move towards clean and renewable energy.”
Patrick Killoran (22) from the Divest Parliament campaign said:
“Like the rest of my generation, I’m deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change here and around the world. It’s great to see MPs listening to their constituents and showing political leadership on climate action. Investing in companies such as BP and Shell, who continue to dig for more fossil fuels and lobby against climate policy to line executives’ pockets, is dangerous and wrong. I hope more MPs will join those committing to Divest Parliament today, and prioritise concrete action to build a clean, fair energy system for all.”
In December 2015, the UK government joined nearly 200 nations in signing the Paris Agreement on climate change. To meet the commitment to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C, with the aspirational target of 1.5°C, scientists have warned the vast majority of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.
Yet, the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) continues to invest millions of pounds of MPs’ savings in fossil fuel companies. Both BP and Shell are among the fund’s top 20 holdings – along with mining firm Rio Tinto, British American Tobacco and Amazon -which were made available for the first time in March 2017. The pension fund has to date been unwilling to make public the full list of its investments.
With the value of fossil fuel companies’ stock based on their entire fossil fuel reserves-;not just the small percentage that can safely be burned-;these investments are not only environmentally destructive, but represent a significant financial risk. Meanwhile, the industry continues to funnel billions every year to find and develop yet more fossil fuel reserves. Both BP and Shell have been involved in lobbying against climate solutions, and BP was identified at the top of a list of firms obstructing climate action in Europe(4).
The 100 pledges follow the efforts of thousands of citizens across the UK, who have written to and met with MPs from the across the political spectrum, urging them to demonstrate their commitment to protecting our society and shared environment from the risks associated with burning and investing in fossil fuels.
David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham:
“After a summer of devastating hurricanes, floods and droughts, the consequences of failing to uphold the Paris Agreement have never been more apparent. It is our responsibility as MPs to take our commitments to our planet and to future generations seriously -; if we are going to call for action on climate change on the floor of the House of Commons then we must lead by example and put our money where our mouths are by divesting our own pension fund and hope that others will join us in doing so.”
- The full Divest Parliament pledge can be found here.
- ‘Divest Parliament‘ is a campaign working with MPs from across the political spectrum to address the financial, environmental and moral risks related to their pension investments in fossil fuels. The campaign asks the Pension Fund to ‘quantify, review and disclose its investments in carbon-intensive industries, engage in a dialogue with fund members and publicly commit to phasing out fossil fuel investments over an appropriate time-scale’. This can be done by immediately freezing any new investment in the top 200 largest fossil fuel companies by reserves, and divesting from fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds over 5 years.
- To date over 800 institutions across the globe representing funds worth over $5 trillion have made some form of divestment commitment. They include universities, faith and medical institutions, cities such as Seattle, Melbourne and Berlin, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune, as well as big financial players such as Norway’s sovereign wealth fund. Over 100 institutions in the UK have now committed to divest, including a third of all UK Universities, The British Medical Association, The Church of England (partial commitment), The Guardian Media Group and several Local Government Pension Funds.