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Councils reliance on fossil fuel stocks exposed

This news post is over 1 year old
 

Data shows they are vulnerable investments

New analysis reveals that £194 million was wiped off Scottish council pension funds due to their oil and gas investments crashing over the past three years.

The non-profit organisation, Platform, commissioned Transition Economics to conduct the analysis  which showed that the combined investments by 10 Scottish local government pension funds into leading oil companies, including BP and Royal Dutch Shell, collapsed between April 2017 and November 2020. 

The largest losers were Strathclyde Pension Fund which lost £46,374,450, Lothian Pension Fund which lost £36,077,023 and Falkirk Council’s Pension Fund which saw losses of £34,769,723. These amount to losses of £626 per member of the Strathclyde Fund and £429 per member of the Lothian Fund.

In March this year, Strathclyde Pension Fund (SPF) managers argued that they should be allowed to keep investing over £700 million of their members’ pensions in fossil fuel companies such as Shell, BP, Exxon, and Chevron – despite major concerns about the climate impact of these companies and despite Glasgow City Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency in 2019.

This analysis concluded that, across the UK, local authority pension funds could have lost at least £1.75 billion in value over the past three years as a result of retaining their investments in just nine oil & gas companies. 

Sally Clark from Divest Strathclyde, the Glasgow-based campaign for fossil-free local government pensions, said: “We have repeatedly presented the Strathclyde Pension Fund with evidence demonstrating the dangers of continued fossil fuel investments and the need to rapidly decarbonise the fund. This loss is the direct result of a conscious failure to act, causing harm to the finances of pension holders by continuing to invest in fossil fuel extraction companies that are poor investments and endanger all our futures through exacerbating climate change.”

“This news is a further demonstration that fossil fuel investments are neither good for the planet nor our pensions. Forward looking pension funds can instead support the transition to a more sustainable Scotland, investing in sectors that will enhance the wellbeing of citizens while ensuring good returns for pensions holders.”

Robert Noyes from Platform, the organisation which gathered for the data, said: "It is well past time for pension funds to drop oil and gas stocks, both for the climate and their future valuation. Funds like Strathclyde, Lothian and Falkirk lost tens of millions by sticking with BP and Shell.

“They should have listened to divest campaigners. Instead, the burden is being dumped on the public, pensioners and the Global South." 

 

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