East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald backs growing calls for fossil fuel divestment

Kirsten Oswald has become the latest Scottish MP to join a growing body of UK political leaders adding their support to the global movement for fossil fuel divestment.

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 8:51 am

The MP for East Renfrewshire has joined more than 350 serving and former MPs from all political parties in signing the Divest Parliament pledge which calls for the MPs’ Pension Fund to move its £733 million of assets away from fossil fuels owing to concerns about climate change.

The pledge has now been signed by 38 SNP MPs, including SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford, Mhairi Black, Ronnie Cowan, Patrick Grady, Joanna Cherry and Dr. Philippa Whitford.

Other MPs signing the pledge include Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Acting Lib Dem leader Ed Davey, Conservative MP Rebecca Pow and Lord Deben, chair of the UK Committee on Climate Change.

The call to divest the MP pension fund from fossil fuels comes as Glasgow prepares to host the UN Climate Change Conference in November and puts pressure on the trustees of the fund as they get ready to announce a new “Climate Change Investment Policy” later in the year .

The fund’s largest single holding is £11.68 million of shares in BP Plc, and it also holds £10.95 million in Royal Dutch Shell. If the trustees agree to the MPs’ demands it will be a powerful symbolic boost for the global movement to divest from fossil fuels, which has now been backed by more than 1100 funds worth over $13.96 trillion.

Kirsten Oswald said: “With our track record of scientific and engineering innovation, Scotland is well placed to make the transformation to a low carbon economy. The Scottish Government is leading the way in setting the most ambitious carbon reduction and renewable energy targets. We must continue to make progress on this issue because climate change is the biggest threat we face.”

Ms Oswald’s pledge comes as constituents across the UK are urging their local MPs to show they care about climate change by calling on their pension fund to align its investments with the UK’s climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement to keep global warming well below 2oC.

Sally Clark, from Giffnock and volunteer for Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “With the catastrophic bushfires in Australia and devastating floods in Indonesia and the UK, it’s vital that more and more MPs are calling for urgent climate action and signing the Divest Parliament pledge. As Glasgow prepares to host COP26, we need Scotland and the UK to show climate leadership by ending funding for climate-wrecking industries and investing in clean alternatives to fossil fuels.”

On average, fossil fuel companies dedicate only 1% of their spending to clean energy projects.

Divestment campaigners argue that funding these companies is morally wrong and fatally undermines progress in tackling the climate crisis. Investors have also been warned about the major financial risks to pensions by overvalued fossil fuel assets.

If MPs are successful, their pension fund will join the Greater London, New York City Pension and Southwark Council Pension Funds, and half of UK universities, who have all ended investment in fossil fuel companies.