Leadership
Cross-Party Group of MPs Launches Campaign to Divest Pension Funds from Fossil Fuels

A cross-party group of British MPs has launched the ‘Divest Parliament’ campaign, with the help of environmental group 350.org.

‘Divest Parliament’ aims for greater transparency on the Parliamentary Pension Fund’s £589 million investments and demanding a commitment to divest from fossil fuels to tackle climate change.

More than 35 current and former MPs, including Caroline Lucas from the Green Party and Barry Gardiner from the Labour Party, have been calling for the Parliamentary Pension Fund to disclose its exposure to high-carbon investments since 2014. The Trustees’ responses, however, have failed to address the members concerns. ‘Divest Parliament’ asks MPs to now show leadership on climate action and responsible investment by supporting action on their own pension fund.

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time and we are already seeing its devastating impacts across the world,” said Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party. “MPs should be showing leadership on this issue, so it’s deeply concerning that our pension fund is supporting an industry that is fueling the climate crisis.”

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By increasing transparency, member engagement and addressing issues of climate risk and stewardship, the MPs’ pension fund could be aspiring to ‘best practice’ in relation to responsible investment.

Already, over 600 organizations and tens of thousands of individuals with assets worth over $3.4 trillion have made commitments to divest from fossil fuels, making this the fastest-growing divestment movement to date.

“MPs should be setting the gold standard for responsible investment and climate risk-management,” said Gardiner, Labor’s Shadow Minister for International Climate Change. “We need transparency and clarity – the very things that as MPs we constantly demand of others. If we have that we can perhaps stop public money being wasted.”

This sentiment among Brits goes beyond those in office: Last month, a survey of UK investors conducted by ethical investment specialists Triodos Bank revealed an overwhelming interest in increasing ethical investment options, while a surprising majority revealed they had since been unaware of opportunities to do so. The survey of 2,003 UK investors also showed overwhelming support for the introduction of a kitemark-style label to help them identify which financial products operate in a sustainable or ethical way. In total, 63 percent of the UK public backed the idea and 43 percent said it would make them more likely to buy a financial product, rising to 53 percent of Millennials.

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