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UN secretary general advises pension funds to divest from fossil fuels

06 November 2014

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The United Nations has become the latest voice calling on pension funds to cut investments in oil companies and other fossil fuel businesses in a bid to tackle climate change.

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general, told delegates at a climate change summit in Copenhagen that big investors such as insurers and pension funds should cut their investments and focus on renewable energy sources instead.

His comments follow pressure from Green Party MP Caroline Lucas for the GBP 487m Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PFI, 23 October) to pull its investments out of fossil fuels.

Prince Charles also attacked the short-termism of pension funds and called for more sustainable investments at last year's annual NAPF conference.

Speaking at launch of the 'Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report', Ki-moon called for fossil-fuel divestment.

"I have been urging companies like pension funds or insurance companies to reduce their investments in a fossil-fuel based economy [and shift] to renewable sources of energy," he said.

Elsewhere at the summit, global climate campaign group 350.org called on investments in fossil fuels to fall by tens of billions of dollars.

Executive director of 350.org May Boeve said: "The report strengthens the case for fossil fuel divestment.''

"It clearly states that the vast majority of coal, oil and gas must remain underground and that investments in the sector must fall by tens of billions of dollars a year.

"The fossil fuel industry's business plan and a liveable planet are simply incompatible."

The GoFossilFree campaign has called on the UN to set an example and divest its investments in fossil fuels from its GBP 33bn staff retirement funds.

Much action has already been implemented by the industry, with leading European pension funds joining forces with the UN Environment Programme and its Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) to form the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition (PDS) in order reduce the carbon footprint of USD 500bn of worldwide institutional investment (PFI, 25 September).

First published - 06.11.2014

Lindsay.sharman@wilmington.co.uk