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Greens call for fossil fuel divestment

23 October 2014

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Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has called on the £487m Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund to pull its investments out of fossil fuels and shift them to sustainable sources.

In a letter to Brian Donohoe, chairman of the fund, Lucas said she was particularly concerned the fund is contributing to global warming and of the economic risk to such assets if governments put in place 'effective climate regulation'.

"MPs, parliament, should be demonstrating a positive way forward, it's incumbent to make sure our house is in order.

"It's not helpful if parliament is setting an example whereby we're not shifting our pension funds to sustainable sources and inadvertently potentially accelerating climate change," Lucas said.

A decision to make such a change would be following in the footsteps of the Rockerfeller family, Glasgow University and churches around the world, which have already pulled out of fossil fuels.

Hundreds of institutions worldwide have already divested ?31bn from gas, coal, and oil investments as a way of tackling climate change.

An Oxford University study found the campaign has grown faster than any previous divestment movements, including those on apartheid and tobacco.

Last month, Glasgow became the first university in Europe to vote to pull its endowment out of fossil fuels.

Students across the UK are lobbying universities to follow suit, including King's College London where campaigners met the vice-principal last week and the School of Oriental and African Studies where a decision is expected later this year.

Lucas said the divestment campaign had benefited from comments by the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, who said earlier this month that the "vast majority of reserves are unburnable."

"There's a strong economic reason [to divest] ... That these pension funds might not be performing as well as they might appear, once you factor in the fact that the investment in fossil fuels could well be unrealisable if we take seriously the fact we need to be weaning ourselves off fossil fuels and stay below 2C warming," Lucas said.

She added that she expects the call to attract cross-party support.

The fund does not disclose how much of its value is invested in fossil fuels.

First published 23.10.2014

Lindsay.sharman@wilmington.co.uk