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Campaigners welcome council move to divest from fossil fuels

This news post is 11 months old

East Lothian councillors voted unanimously for a motion calling for Lothian Pension Fund to end its investments in a number of companies.

Climate campaigners have welcomed East Lothian Council’s decision to pass a motion calling on the Lothian Pension Fund to end its investments in fossil fuel companies that are driving the climate crisis.

The motion, tabled by Green councillor, Shona McIntosh, and seconded by Scottish Labour councillor Brooke Ritchie, calls on the Lothian Pension Fund to act immediately to remove its investments from fossil fuel companies. 

It says the fund should produce an annual report on its fossil fuel investments and a clear strategy to divest from coal, oil and gas companies.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the motion.

The Lothian Pension Fund, administered by The City of Edinburgh Council, invests an estimated £229 million in fossil fuel companies which are driving climate breakdown, including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil and Equinor.

Oil giant Equinor is currently planning to develop the Rosebank oilfield to the west of Shetland - the largest undeveloped oil and gas field in the UK which contains over 500 million barrels of oil.

Kate Smith, Divest Lothian campaigner from East Lothian, said: "I am absolutely delighted with the outcome of today’s motion. Ending the use of fossil fuels is essential to slowing down the effects of climate change. 

“As a resident of East Lothian I’m proud to see the members of my council, from all parties, working together to lead by example. 

“The more councils that publicly support this issue, and the more investors are held to account, the greater our chances of achieving a sustainable and economically secure future."

The Lothian Pension Fund is the second largest local government pension scheme in Scotland and administers the pension funds of over 92,000 members from four local authorities in the Lothians. The pension fund also manages the pensions of 90 employers, including Scottish Water, Edinburgh Napier University, VisitScotland and Heriot-Watt University.

The decision from East Lothian councillors comes as part of a global push to divest money from fossil fuels. 

To date, 1,552 institutions worth $40.50 trillion have committed to divest, including the Welsh Parliament, the London Boroughs of Islington and Lambeth, Cardiff Council, and 99 UK universities including those of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Sally Clark, divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "It is extremely encouraging that councillors in East Lothian Council have voted to support ending the Lothian Pension Fund’s investments in fossil fuel companies like BP, Shell and Equinor.

“Pensions are for our future security and climate change is one of the biggest threats to that security. Having a financial stake in fossil fuel companies presents a huge conflict of interest for anyone making decisions related to the climate.

"We now need the Lothian Pension Fund to listen to councillors and commit to ending its fossil fuel investments."



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Lok Yue
11 months ago

Perhaps we should also divest ourselves of those companies who make wind energy. After all, a marine turbine costs 800 tons of coal to make the steel, large chunks of rare earth minerals to generate the electricity, a petrol powered dehumidifier to prevent the salty damp air from corroding the generating units and of course landfill to park turbine blades once their glass fibre and resin coating delaminate. All were doing is exporting emissions, not removing them and there is still the small problem of providing back up generation. Hot air from climate activists won't do that.