- Luke Pollard MP joins a cross-party group of over 200 MPs and former MPs that has called on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to phase out its substantial investment in fossil fuel giants such as Shell and BP, following growing concerns about climate change.
Plymouth MP, Luke Pollard joins a group of over 200 cross-party MPs and former MPs who have signed the Divest Parliament Pledge, which calls on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to review and phase out investments in fossil fuel companies . The call follows growing concern among Parliamentarians about the environmental, social and financial risks posed by climate change.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“As a Shadow Environment Minister, I often have the opportunity to speak about climate change and directly call on the government to take more immediate and meaningful action to protect our planet.
It’s important to say clearly and loudly that climate change is real. 97% of scientists believe climate change is happening and it will happen whether we deny it or not. The last four years have been the hottest on record. 60% of animal population since the 1970s has become extinct. A report by Oxfam showed that between 2008 and 2016, 23.5 million people were displaced by extreme weather. If we do not wake up and take serious action this will only get worse.
In 2014, the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment on Climate Change, the most up to date report ever on the issue confirmed with policymakers that the large majority of known fossil fuel reserves (around 80%) will need to be “left in the ground ” and the world largely off dirty energy by 2050 to safely prevent a two degree rise in temperature – globally accepted as a ‘no-go limit’ and deemed “incompatible ” with our current way of life at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009.
The report also predicted if we do not act to stop a temperature increase of above 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, on current trajectory, we would see a rise in sea levels from melting artic ice up to 1 metre by 2100. This would cause severe coastal flooding and super storms to easily flood most major western cities and submerge many low-levels islands. Sea level rise means that coastal communities like Plymouth, the constituency I represent, are on the front line of climate change.
That’s why campaigns like this are so important. I believe all pension funds should move investments from fossil fuels towards renewables. As MPs we should be vocal about encouraging companies and institutions to move forward in this direction.”
Over 100 Labour MPs have signed the pledge including leader Jeremy Corbyn , Mary Creagh and Clive Lewis. In the last year they have been joined by a growing number of cross-party MPs including Conservatives Justine Greening and Dr Sarah Wollaston. 29 out of 35 SNP MPs, including Mhairi Black, have also signed the pledge, alongside 11 out of 12 Liberal Democrat MPs, including Party Leader Sir Vince Cable.
The campaign was started in 2014 by a small group of MPs, including the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. Their first success was to pressure the trustees of the MPs Pension Fund to disclose its investments, revealing that the largest individual holding is in BP PLC [3,4]. On average, fossil fuel companies dedicate only 1% of their spending to clean energy projects .
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavillion, who first established the campaign, said:
“We’re now a 200 strong cohort of cross-party MPs who believe it is morally indefensible for Parliamentarians to be investing in companies which profit from wrecking our planet. MPs have a duty to take action to prevent the worst of climate change. One simple step we can take is ditching our investments in fossil fuels – and instead invest in clean, renewable energy, and low-carbon technologies”.
Tytus Murphy, a campaigner with 350.org, said:
“The climate science is unequivocal: the vast majority of fossil fuels must stay in the ground to contain warming below 1.5 degrees. Cross-party MPs backing Divest Parliament acknowledge that it is unacceptable for political leaders to be heavily investing in fossil fuels at a time of climate breakdown. Constituents all over the UK are bringing the demands for a world powered by clean energy to the top of the political agenda – where it firmly belongs.”
If successful, the campaign would see Parliament joining the Irish National Infrastructure Fund, the New York State Pension fund, local authorities such as Waltham Forest and Southwark and two thirds of UK universities in committing to fossil fuel divestment .
 Pledge text available here and full list of supportive MPs available here. 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.’
 Jeremy Corbyn becomes the 100th MP to sign the pledge, coverage in The Financial Times.
 In March 2017, it was revealed that the MPs Pension Fund invests in fossil fuels, tobacco and tax avoiders, coverage in The Independent.
 Annual report of the MPs Pension Fund is available here. Individual investments: BP PLC (£7.33 million), Royal Dutch Shell A (£3.67 million), Rio Tinto (£3.67 million), Royal Dutch Shell B (£2.93 million) and Total SA (£2.93 million).
 A recent report by Carbon Disclosure Project revealed that on average, fossil fuel companies allocate just 1.3 per cent of their total 2018 capital expenditure to green energy projects, coverage in The Financial Times.
 To date, over 1000 institutions across the globe – representing funds worth over $8 trillion – have made some form of divestment commitment. Full list of commitments available here.