Edinburgh council votes for fossil fuel divestment

Councillors in Edinburgh voted this afternoon for an end to investments in fossil fuel companies by the £8+ billion Lothian Pension Fund.

Scottish divestment campaigners at a climate rally on 12 November 2022. Photo: Friends of the Earth Scotland

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.

12 replies »

  1. Bit by bit, but sadly far too slowly, we are getting there as individual after individual realises that there is more to life than the back pocket.

  2. Wonder what the members of the pension funds will think if their pensions tank?? They pay their bills out of their back pocket-what do “we” think a pension is for?

    This is nonsense. Individual members already have the right to decide themselves if they wish their pensions to be divested from any scheme. This is not the individual, this is Big Brother. Beware the “we’s”. When the effluent hits the fan they are long gone, rinsing and repeating for some other cause of their own.

    Never mind, members could end up with a larger chunk in Tesla! How’s that doing? Someone is doing nicely, shareholders are suing someone as they feel too nicely, at their expense. Dividends??

  3. As ever, a “nonsense” verdict from Martyn is an assurance that we are on the right track. Thanks, Martyn.
    (You can’t keep up with the delaying tactics for ever, Martyn.)

  4. Delaying tactics, 1720??

    Every pension member can contribute to whatever he/she wants, ie. they can opt in or out and can convert to whatever they want later on. If they wish to contribute more, they can do so via AVCs. Their decisions, if they are sensible, will be based upon their future security of income, not whether the “we’s” are on track. The “we’s” should take their own decisions, rarely do, and just want to impose upon others. Made out your bank transfers for those reparations yet, 1720?

    Those are the facts, 1720. That is the reality. The rest is virtue signaling by others who will be nowhere to be seen if and when it all goes pear shaped.

    Typical leftie nonsense though. Try and control what others do with their hard- earned money and then disappear when the consequences fall back on the individual. Remember the call to go diesel? Now 25p-30p per liter dearer than petrol and most distribution still diesel, much of the public sector still diesel, most construction still diesel and most of agricultural production still diesel-so, let the “we’s” then “improve” the situation by taking wheat and plonking it into E10 petrol increasing the price of wheat in the process and adding another cost to the consumer for their wheat- based food including meat where wheat is the largest feed ingredient. The one who was promoting it? Still around, pontification about such things as? The environment and the cost of living!

    Keep the “we’s” away from all but their own money might be the best approach based upon their very poor track record of managing others. Remember “there’s no money left.” No money and left, “we” have been warned.

    Perhaps in Scotland they will divert it all into ferry building!

  5. Leftie nonsense, dear me, such bigotry. You know, all the way across the political spectrum people support divestment and want to ditch fossil fuels as soon as possible. And you cannot blame so called “lefties” for all the wrongs in the economy, government or world. The right wing Truss government created a £50 billion hole in the economy, caused havoc in gilts/pensions and according to the Governor of the Bank of England caused the economy to be literally hours away from collapse.. And we are all paying for that ideological debacle.

  6. KatT, you are talking nonsense. If anyone wants to divest within their pensions, they have the right to do so already, and have had that for some time. Someone who tries to present the brave new world would appear to be living in the past.

    You may not understand that, you may want to signal that a few people attempting to make that decision for other people is somehow progress. It is not progress at all as the right already exists and could easily be used to invest into/back into fossil fuels, by an individual, if they wished! Personal choice and responsibility so much better than Group Think from the “we’s”. There are cults for that sort of thing.

    Sorry, no one is paying for that ideological debacle. Maybe Liz Tuss. It happened and it is now corrected. Mortgages will go up as interest rates rise. They rise in UK as interest rates in USA have risen faster, and UK is now catching up. That catch up was inevitable, whatever certain politicians state for their own purpose. Unfortunate, but that is what happens when inflation soars. Why has inflation soared KatT??

    Apologies are long overdue for fooling people that UK energy was secure and shaking tambourines at COPs as if fossil fuels (stranded assets!!!) could be forgotten about. Now expecting same fossil fuels to fund for nonsense directed against them that was previously put forward and is now shown to have been nonsense. As I stated, when the effluent hits the fan those responsible suddenly disappear or claim more of the nonsense would have made it sensible! Irresponsible, and then not responsible! Pushing change but unaware when it has already taken place! Perhaps a bit more coherence may be required?

    I will continue to manage my own pensions thank you KatT, unless you guarantee you would cough up for misinformation, and low returns. Your CV on that does not fill me with any confidence.

  7. Personally I would be advising the pension fund to invest in fossil fuels in order to avoid the Energy Emergency and make a bob or two for their members at the same time. It would be nice not to depend on Qatar for our gas over the next decade or so. The OBR suggests the Net Zero agenda will cost over £400 billion pounds between now and 2050. That will be to no climate benefit because the UK’s carbon emissions are negligible in a worldwide context. Does anyone think, China, India, Indonesia and African countries are going to give up longed for increases in economic growth to reduce emissions, I don’t think so and indeed Modi and Xi have said as much.

  8. “KatT, you are talking nonsense. If anyone wants to divest within their pensions, they have the right to do so already, and have had that for some time. Someone who tries to present the brave new world would appear to be living in the past.” (Martyn Collier – in case it’s not obvious,)

    I guess KatT will be encouraged as I was by your verdict of “nonsense”.

    You may not understand, Martyn, that the funds have to be invested regardless of any individual’s right to opt out. Should the Fund be persuaded that its current investments are likely to be stranded, and/or that there is an overwhelming moral/ethical reason for avoiding certain investments, then said Fund has the right or duty to invest elsewhere.

    I’m sure the third of your sentences above makes sense to you!

    I see you have found a new term – Group Think – which you imagine applies only to this amorphous group of ‘we’s’ you have discovered, all of them, no doubt, “lefties.” Do you imagine there is no group think on the right? Wasn’t it group think that landed us with Truss and Sunak? The term of course is vacuous in the extreme. There is certainly as much individual thought on the left as there is on the right, though I might hazard the opinion that group think is more pronounced amongst those who allow themselves to be persuaded that they are in charge. I suggest you jettison such a meaningless term which serves only to mask an unwillingness or inability to think on the part of the user.

    Meanwhile, as the planet burns, –
    We have noticed, Martyn, that your highly original and highly relevant opinions merely delay and distract from the task in hand which is disinvestment from FFs for reasons beyond your ability to comprehend, to wit to signal to FF companies that they should eschew both the development of FFs in favour of more rational alternatives, as well as that greenwashing which provides such as yourself with an argument. They pose as saviours of the planet, whilst continuing to pollute.

    • The Fund can invest where it wants, 1720, but the Fund is investing for its members. The members can already decide if they are happy or not with the way any fund is investing and if not invest elsewhere. Many do already. Their contributions are not invested in that Fund, but another. The Fund you refer to does not receive their contribution, another one does. You definitely do not understand.

      Once again, you and now KatT, who is normally a wise owl, haven’t a clue about the subject and pontificate as if you do. I do recall KatT doing so a while ago regarding Volvo but thought she had learned from that.

      If you feel you are the real saviours of the planet, then God help us.

      ” Persuaded that they are in charge”!! Hence, the “we’s”!! Exactly, 1720. You may feel you are, but you are not, neither are you able to be in charge of an individual’s pension choice. Never mind, you can interpret or dream you might be. Thankfully, even if you indulge, not mine.

  9. Nothing you say negates my point. So I’ll carry on “definitely not understand(ing) “ and “talking nonsense”. Look where ‘understanding’ and not “talking nonsense” get you. A redefinition of well-understood concepts such as understanding and sense, and a determination thus to delay and distract.
    I’ve already pointed out the foolishness of your claiming to be in control/charge. Turn this back on me if you like, it does wonders for the concept of integrity. Care to redefine this as well?

    And meanwhile……….
    Conversation over. Enough mental gymnastics for one night. Get a grip! Think!

    • Ahh, “the I have been posting nonsense, now found out so conversation over”, line from 1720-again.

      The fall back of the amateur activist.

      As far as pensions are concerned-remember Maxwell! Others deciding what is done with your pension contributions without an individual’s ability to moderate, have been shown to be very costly. However, who would expect antis to learn from their mistakes?

      Still no apology.

      Meanwhile, I think that E-mail I received two days ago giving a summary of one pension and what actions I need to take if I want to move to another provider was factual, just as it is each year. I also recall when that pension was first established by myself in the “good” old days of Maxwell, there was no choice. Since corrected, but still conveniently ignored by some who would appear to want to return to the “good old” past and ignore the perils.

      Much better to be in charge-of your own pension. Most strive to be in charge of their income during their working life (see all the strikes scheduled!) Many will have as many years for retirement as they worked. Others who take control will not be around if/when it goes pear shaped, and if they are, not even an apology. Just “turn down your thermostat”!

  10. Emergency energy plan for Tuesday postponed

    The move followed a warning that Britain’s energy supplies were looking tighter than usual this week. Alerts are sent out automatically when expected supplies drop below a certain level. But they do not mean that blackouts are likely, or that the situation is critical. National Grid said it was “confident” it would be able to manage margins and “demand is not at risk”……

    It came after forecasts projected a large drop in the amount of power that Britain will be able to import from French nuclear power stations on Monday and Tuesday evenings. The lack of strong winds to power turbines has also affected how much power can be generated within the UK.

    Lack of wind so let’s fix it by building more wind turbines…….

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