UK MPs call for Parliament pension fund to back investor tar sands campaign

Call for Parliament fund to get active with its share voting rights.

UK Members of Parliament (MPs) will today (March 11) demand that their own Parliamentary Pension Fund backs a growing investor campaign to force oil giants, BP and Shell, to report on potential investment risks associated with controversial tar sands projects.
A cross-party group of MPs led by Simon Hughes, who holds the climate change and energy portfolio for the Liberal Democrat party, has said it will scrutinise the parliamentary fund’s exercise of its voting rights at the annual general meetings (AGMs) of companies it invests in. They will also publish an Early Day Motion – an open discussion book for comment by MPs – calling on the pension fund to vote in favour of shareholder resolutions that would require BP and Shell to detail investment risks associated with their oil sands developments in Canada and other countries, and their plans to address them. The oil companies are already facing fractious forthcoming AGMs over the tar sands issue. A coalition of UK trades unions, NGOs and investors is attempting to get thousands of pension scheme members to join an e-mail bombing campaign to push their own retirement schemes to back the resolutions. The coalition includes UNISON, the UK and Europe’s biggest public sector union with more than 1.3m members and the Public andCommercial Services Union (PCS), the fifth largest trade union in the UK with over 300,000 members. Other coalition members include Greenpeace, WWF and Co-operative Asset Management, which is joint filing the resolutions. Simon Hughes, MP, said: “Tar sands are a very risky investment – financially, environmentally and socially. The resolutions ask BP and Shell to report to their investors on how they are managing these risks. Government should lead by example and be a responsible investor; for this reason it is essential that the MPs’ pension fund supports these resolutions.”
The shareholder resolutions at BP and Shell have been coordinated by FairPensions, a London-based campaign group supported by a group of NGOs. They say investors are concerned that oil companies may not be properly accounting for future carbon costs, high operational costs, environmental clean up costs and litigation risks for the tar sands projects.
Duncan Exley, director of campaigns at FairPensions, said: “Institutional investors like pension funds have an interest in ensuring that companies are financially and environmentally sustainable. We urge the MPs’ fund to act as a responsible investor by holding BP and Shell to account over their activities in the tar sands.”