Councillors in Edinburgh voted this afternoon for an end to investments in fossil fuel companies by the £8+ billion Lothian Pension Fund.
A motion, tabled by SNP councillors, called on the fund to protect the long-term interests of its members by removing investments from fossil fuel companies that were not shifting their business toward renewable energy.
Last month, East Lothian councillors voted unanimously in favour of ending the Lothian Pension Fund’s fossil fuel investments.
The Lothian Pension Fund, administered by The City of Edinburgh Council, invests an estimated £229 million in fossil fuel companies, including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil and Equinor. (List of assets at 31 March 2022)
Equinor is planning to develop the Rosebank oilfield to the west of Shetland. This is estimated to be the largest undeveloped oil and gas field in the UK, containing more than 500 million barrels of oil.
Today’s vote was welcomed by climate campaigners.
Eva Gallova, a Divest Lothian campaigner from Edinburgh, said:
“Divesting the Lothian Pension Fund from fossil fuels would cut the Council’s ties with an industry hell-bent on stymying climate action and taking us on a path which can only lead to more death and destruction.
“The members of the Lothian Pension Fund, especially the younger members, should have prospects for a future worth retiring into and this will not be possible if our councils continue investing in companies like BP, Shell and Equinor that are planning massive expansions in their climate-wrecking oil and gas production.
“It’s time for the Lothian Pension Fund to protect pensions and the planet by ending its investments in fossil fuels.”
Sally Clark, divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, described the Edinburgh vote as encouraging. She said it had never been more urgent for councils to “break their ties with the coal, oil and gas companies that are on course to trigger climate catastrophe with their expansion plans”. She said:
“We now need the Lothian Pension Fund to listen to councillors and invest in climate solutions like social housing and renewable energy that will protect pensions and benefit communities here in Scotland and around the world.”
The Lothian Pension Fund is the second largest local government pension scheme in Scotland and administers the pension funds of over 92,000 members from four local authorities in the Lothians. The pension fund also manages the pensions of 90 employers, including Scottish Water, Edinburgh Napier University, VisitScotland and Heriot-Watt University.
So far, more than 1,500 global institutions have committed to divest. In the UK, they include 17 local authorities and 100 universities.