Environmental campaigners call for council pension fracking divestment
3 September 2018, 07:12
Environmental campaigners have urged Scottish councils to stop using pension funds to invest in fracking.
Friends of the Earth Scotland, 350.org and Platform have published a report showing that local authorities in Scotland invest £972 million of pension fund money in 12 companies fracking overseas, including ConocoPhillips, BP and Shell.
The total across the UK of council pension fund investments in fracking is more than £9 billion, the report said.
The Strathclyde Pension Fund, administered by Glasgow City Council, had the largest investment at £388 million.
Across Scotland £35 million more was found to be invested directly in fracking companies than in a similar study in 2017.
The investments are held through the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme which provides pensions for local government and associated workers.
The funds are managed by councillors through council pensions committees.
The Scottish Government has introduced an effective ban on the controversial gas extraction technique.
Friends of the Earth Scotland's head of campaigns Mary Church said: "Opening up new frontiers of fossil fuels like fracked gas whether here or in the US is completely irresponsible in the context of the global climate crisis.
"The Scottish Government and Parliament oppose fracking because of the serious risks it poses to our environment and health.
"If fracking is too dirty and dangerous for us here in Scotland we shouldn't be trying to profit from it taking place in other countries either.
"The pressure will be on SNP, Labour, Lib Dem and Green councillors on pension committees whose parties oppose fracking in Scotland to put in place an investment approach that supports a healthy future for us all, instead of making a quick buck from dirty industries like fracking."
Unison Scotland deputy convenor and Strathclyde Pension Fund member Stephen Smellie said: "Using pension funds to invest in fracking is wrong on environmental and safety grounds.
"Fossil fuels in general and fracking particularly are risky investments given doubts about the financial viability of fracking and the need to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.
"There are other better ways to invest our pension funds and councils should be living up to their climate change obligations, investing in clean energy solutions, not more fossil fuels."
A spokesman for council body Cosla said: "We know that administering authorities and pension funds take their responsibilities seriously and operate within both their legal and fiduciary duties."
A spokesman for Strathclyde Pension Fund said: "Strathclyde is, by some distance, the largest LGPS fund in the country and its exposure to fossil fuels is not particularly high in relative terms.
"It is also a leading investor in renewables and a strong supporter of the transition to a low carbon economy - which simple divestment fails to deliver."