Fifty members of Parliament from various political parties have expressed their support for an environmental campaign that is seeking to divest Parliament’s £612 million pension fund from fossil fuels.
The campaign, called Divest Parliament, which was initiated by environmental activist group Fossil Free UK, is calling on all election candidates to commit to reducing the UK’s use of fossil fuels.
“We congratulate these 50 MPs for their commendable leadership on climate change,” said Daniel Selwyn, a member of the Divest Parliament campaign. “Any candidate asking for our vote at this election should recognize their responsibility to not only uphold the UK’s international climate commitments, but also to protect people’s jobs, pensions, and livelihoods, as well as the health of our planet for future generations.”
Following pressure from constituents and MPs, Parliament’s pension fund, the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF), made its top 20 holdings public for the first time in March. The top 20 investments also account for 20% of the total fund. Among the top investments for Parliament’s pension fund that are seen as environmentally unfriendly are oil companies BP and Royal Dutch Shell, tobacco company British American Tobacco, and mining company Rio Tinto.
“Climate change represents a serious financial risk to pension savers and investors across the UK,” said Conservative MP Laura Sandys in a statement. “Climate change represents a serious financial risk to pension savers and investors across the UK.”
According to Divest Parliament, more than 700 institutions and 58,000 individuals have joined the global campaign for fossil fuel divestment, representing $5.46 trillion in assets.
For its part, the PCPF said in its 2016 annual report that it is developing an engagement policy that will set out the terms of their engagement on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in relation to investments.
“The trustees have agreed to formally incorporate the fund’s position on responsible investment into a separate statement within the fund’s investment principles,” said the report. “The trustees believe that [ESG] issues can have a material impact on the long-term performance of its investments.”