10 Scottish council pension funds collapsed between April 2017 and November 2020 due to the decline in the value of fossil fuel stocks, according to analysis commissioned by non-profit organisation Platform.
In March this year, Strathclyde Pension Fund (SPF) managers argued that they should be allowed to keep investing over £700m of their members’ pensions in fossil fuel companies such as Shell, BP, Exxon, and Chevron – despite major concerns about the climate impact of these companies and despite Glasgow City Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency in 2019.
Failure to transition away from fossil fuels has wiped a total of £194m off Scottish local authority pensions.
The analysis also revealed that across the UK, local authority pension funds could have lost at least £1.75bn in value over the past three years as a result of retaining their investment in just nine oil and gas companies.
Sally Clark from Divest Strathclyde, a Glasgow-based campaign for fossil-free pensions said: ‘We have repeatedly presented the Strathclyde Pension Fund with evidence demonstrating the dangers of continued fossil fuel investments and the need to rapidly decarbonise the fund.
‘This loss is the direct result of a conscious failure to act, causing harm to the finances of pension holders by continuing to invest in fossil fuel extraction companies that are poor investments and endanger all our futures through exacerbating climate change.
‘This news is a further demonstration that fossil fuel investments are neither good for the planet nor our pensions. Forward-looking pension funds can instead support the transition to a more sustainable Scotland, investing in sectors that will enhance the wellbeing of citizens while ensuring good returns for pensions holders.’
Robert Noyes from non-profit organisation Platform, who commissioned the data said: ‘It is well past time for pension funds to drop oil and gas stocks, both for the climate and their future valuation. Funds like Strathclyde, Lothian and Falkirk lost tens of millions by sticking with BP and Shell. They should have listened to divest campaigners. Instead, the burden is being dumped on the public, pensioners and the Global South.’
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