200 MPs back campaign to divest their pension from fossil fuels

A cross-party group of 200 former and current MPs has called on the MPs’ Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels.

The MPS, which include Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, and Work and Pensions Committee member and Conservative MP Heidi Allen, have signed the Divest Parliament Pledge, which calls on the MP’s Pension Fund to review and phase out investments in fossil fuel companies. The call follows growing concern among Parliamentarians about the environmental, social and financial risks posed by climate change.

The announcement comes as world leaders meet in Katowice, Poland, for the UN Conference of Parties (COP) to begin discussions about increasing emissions reductions in light of the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees. The report warns that there are only 12 years left to make sure warming stays below this level, and urges a rapid move away from fossil fuels.

Commenting, Conservative MP and UK committee on climate change chair, Lord Deben, said: “Preventing disastrous climate change will be the defining challenge of the next decade for world leaders. The UK must show leadership by demonstrating that we are prepared to make the necessary choices. This includes moving investment out of fossil fuels and towards renewables that are already proving that they can be built at the scale needed to power our homes and businesses. Moving quickly towards the Paris goals is the best way to protect our health and our prosperity for many generations to come.”

The campaign was started in 2014 by a small group of MPs, including the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. Their first success was to pressure the trustees of the MPs Pension Fund to disclose its investments, revealing that the largest individual holding is in BP PLC [4,5]. On average, fossil fuel companies dedicate only 1 per cent of their spending to clean energy projects.

Lucas said: “We’re now a 200 strong cohort of cross-party MPs who believe it is morally indefensible for parliamentarians to be investing in companies which profit from wrecking our planet. MPs have a duty to take action to prevent the worst of climate change. One simple step we can take is ditching our investments in fossil fuels – and instead invest in clean, renewable energy, and low-carbon technologies”.

If successful, the campaign would see parliament joining the Irish National Infrastructure Fund, the New York State Pension fund, local authorities such as Waltham Forest and Southwark and two-thirds of UK universities in committing to fossil fuel divestment.

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