City council faces calls to axe £104m fossil fuel investment

Councillor Chas Booth is calling on the city council to remove investment from companies involved in extracting coal, oil or gas.

Councillor Chas Booth is calling on the city council to remove investment from companies involved in extracting coal, oil or gas.

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CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the city council to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry by publicly removing their investments from companies engaged in the extraction of coal, oil or gas.

A report by Divest Lothian said the Lothian Pension Fund, administered by the council for public sector workers, has at least £104 million invested in companies such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil.

Alan Munro, Divest Lothian campaigner, said: “We have presented our arguments to the council on why profiting from companies driving the climate crisis is both financially and morally irresponsible.

“But time and again we are told that the financial risks of divestment are too great. We firmly believe that there are more sustainable alternatives for the council to be investing in that deliver both long-term financial benefits while also benefiting our communities, including renewable energy and social housing projects.”

The council also invests £54m in sustainable infrastructure investment such as hydroelectric power in the Highlands but Green energy spokesman Cllr Chas Booth said the council must reconsider its position.

He said: “Green councillors have been arguing for years now that Lothian Pension Fund needs to get out of the dirty, dangerous fossil fuel industry.

“It is an industry which literally fuels climate change, one of the defining global challenges of our era.

“But the pension fund needs to divest for hard-headed financial reasons too. The value of companies which invest in fossil fuels is set to plummet in future decades as the world wakes up to the damage wreaked by burning all that oil, gas and coal. So betting future pensions on a such a high-risk activity is a very bad bet. It would be much better for pension funds to focus on industries which meet long term needs, such as the need for decent quality housing.”

Across the world 701 institutions have already committed to divest from fossil fuels including Edinburgh University, Heriot Watt and the Church of Scotland. Divest Lothian and student group People and Planet Edinburgh will be holding a rally outside City Chambers next week.

No-one at the pension fund was available for comment.