In an unusual coalition, a cross-party group of Members of Parliament and campaign group 350.org have today launched a push for the £589m (€698m) Parliamentary Pension Fund to commit to divest from fossil fuels in light of the risks posed by climate change.
The Divest Parliament campaign builds on calls over the past few years by MPs and former MPs for the fund to disclose its exposure to high-carbon investments and to “take measures to set the global standard for responsible investment”. The group says the trustees have failed to address MPs’ concerns; indeed the trustees have indicated they are not open to further dialogue on responsible investment.
Now the group has ratcheted up its action with Green Party co-Leader Caroline Lucas saying: “I don’t want my pension savings invested in dirty energy – instead, we should be supporting the transition to a fossil fuel free future.
“This is a great opportunity for MPs to lead the way – and I hope that colleagues from across the House will support this push for transparency and more socially responsible investment.”Barry Gardiner, the opposition Labour’s Party’s spokesperson for trade and climate change said the move was “about taking the right financial decision and not taking stupid risks with public money”.
He went on to say the “very trustees who are supposed to be guardians of probity and good practice refuse to examine whether MPs’ own pensions are exposed” to climate change risk and that MPs should be setting the “gold standard for responsible investment and climate risk-management”.
Gardiner said: “We need transparency and clarity – the very things that as MPs we constantly demand of others.”
It comes as the Pensions Regulator Lesley Titcomb said last month that ESG “can’t be ignored” and earlier this week two leading UK barristers issued an opinion that pension fund trustees who fail to consider climate risk could be exposing themselves to legal challenge.
Other Parliamentarians supporting the Divest Parliament call include Liz Saville-Roberts of Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru and Laura Sandys, the ex-Conservative MP who is on the advisory board of Carbon Tracker. The campaign is being supported by environmental law firm ClientEarth.