PLSA LAC 2019: Extinction Rebellion gatecrashes MP's speech

Members of the climate change awareness group, Extinction Rebellion, gatecrashed the speech of Minister for Local Government, Rishi Sunak, at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association's (PLSA) Local Authority Conference.

Entering the room with cries of “fossil fuels are killing the planet” and “there are no pensions on a dead planet”, a small group unfurled an Extinction Rebellion banner during the speech on the 'view from Whitehall' in regard to local authority pension schemes.

Engaging with the protesters, Sunak said: “I absolutely appreciate that climate change is an incredibly important thing, but you are disrupting a conference.”

Interjecting, PLSA chair, Richard Butcher, addressed the protesters: “You have a point of view and we would love to hear your point of view.

“You are very welcome to sit down and ask us some questions later on, amongst some of the others. We are addressing climate change during the course of this conference.”

Following the initial disruption, the Extinction Rebellion members sat patiently and listened to the remainder of the presentation, waiting for the opportunity to press the MP on climate change issues in relation to local authority pension scheme investments.

Once Sunak had finished his talk that tackled pooling, the fair deal and the new quadrennial valuation proposals, one of the group's members asked: “Why is it that local authorities are still investing £16bn in fossil fuels and over £9bn in fracking?”

Sunak responded: “It's not my job to tell anyone in this room individually in how to invest their funds.

“I think that infrastructure investing is something that is worthwhile for pension funds to consider, but it would not be for me to tell individual schemes to say 'you must do this'.

“Each person in this room, in their own individual funds, can put in place whatever social environmental investing guidelines they see fit.”

The Extinction Rebellion member retorted: “If we have any hope of trying to keep the world from warming by less than two degrees, we are going to have to take some direct action, rather than allowing local authorities invest where they want.”

The protesters left the session once the question and answer section had concluded.

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