Edinburgh pension fund invests £46m in fracking

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An environmental charity is calling for the council to stop investing pension money into controversial fracking companies.

A new Friends of the Earth report found that the Lothian Pension Fund, managed by the city council, has put £46 million into nine companies which use the technique to exploit previously inaccessible shale gas and oil.

In total across Scotland, councils currently invest £406m in 23 fracking companies – including BP, Exxon Mobile and Chevron.

A moratorium on fracking is currently in place across Scotland while the government studies its risks.

And Friends of the Earth have now called for councils to divest from the companies behind it.

“Opening up new frontiers of fossil fuels like fracked gas whether here or in the US is completely irresponsible in the context of the global climate crisis,” said campaigner Flick Monk.

“A total ban on fracking is needed to protect communities and the climate from this dirty, unnecessary industry.

“Councils, particularly those in areas currently under licence for onshore oil and gas extraction, should oppose fracking and new fossil fuel developments and call for a legislative ban to prevent the industry going ahead.

“Councils should support a future free from fracking and other forms of unconventional oil and gas by investing responsibly. That means divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in projects that benefit our local communities, like green energy and much needed social housing.”

Lothian Pension Fund spokeswoman Pamela Bruce said it had a duty to pensioners to invest where they can make the most money.

She said: “The £6.4 billion Lothian Pension Fund has a fiduciary duty to its members and employers, set out in law, to invest for the best returns to ensure pensions can be paid when they are due.

“This restricts disinvesting from companies for purely non-financial reasons. However, the Fund believes strongly that environmental, social and governance issues affect the financial performance of the companies in which it invests.”

The council’s Pensions Committee has considered requests to disinvest from fossil fuel investments, it believes the “current approach is appropriate”.

But Green councillor Claire Miller said: “Green councillors have repeatedly called for the pension fund to get out of fossil fuel investment altogether. It is too high risk and too unreliable to provide safe and secure pensions. Far better to invest in industries which have a long-term future. It’s time for Edinburgh to get its pensions out of fossil fuels.”

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk