Strathclyde Pension Fund decision leaves all eyes on September meeting
By Victoria Johnsen
On Wednesday 2nd June, the Strathclyde Pension Fund committee voted on whether or not to divest over £500 million which they currently have invested in climate-destroying, financially-risky fossil fuels.
The committee took the positive step of committing to assess the climate credentials of the companies they invest in and to divest from companies which ‘don’t take their responsibility on carbon or climate seriously’. However, the real work starts now, ahead of their next crucial meeting in September, when a concrete decision will be made on the criteria they will use to make their divestment decisions.
The Committee are under pressure to divest before the international COP26 climate summit comes to Glasgow in November. Strathclyde is the joint largest pension fund in the UK so a commitment to divestment would be a real boost to Glasgow and Scotland’s position as a climate leader at these talks.
Individuals and organisations representing some of the fund’s 250,000 members have been outspoken in their support for divestment, with over 550 signatories on our Open Letter which was delivered to Councillors ahead of last Wednesday’s vote. Between now and the September meeting, we will be continuing to pressure the Committee to ensure that strong climate standards and a clear timeline are agreed upon to ensure that urgent divestment from coal, oil and gas producers will happen.
If you’d like to get involved and support the campaign, you can join us at our next virtual meeting on Tuesday 22nd June at 6pm where we will be planning our strategy for the coming months. All are welcome! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via our social media if you would like to attend.
We asked some members of SPF and divestment campaigners to share their thoughts on the vote:
Isla Scott, Divest Strathclyde campaigner:
“Today the Strathclyde Pension Fund have taken a positive step towards divesting the Fund from its £508 million holding in fossil fuel companies which are the main drivers of the climate crisis. However, the Pension Committee now need to act without delay on finalising the minimum standards which will be used so that they start divesting before COP26 – the immediate security of our planet and the livelihoods of people around the world and here in Scotland depends on moving away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible”
Geraldine Clayton, Strathclyde Pension fund member and climate activist:
“As a retired member of Strathclyde Pension Fund, I don’t want my pension to be invested in the fossil fuel companies that are most responsible for causing the climate crisis. Oil prices may rise and fall in the short term, but shares in fossil fuels are increasingly being seen as risky investments by the financial sector. It makes no sense for the Strathclyde Pension Fund to continue investing in fossil fuels when it should be directing all its resources into creating a safer world for future generations.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Divestment Campaigner Sally Clark:
“The decision by Councillors today is a positive step, but there is much more to do in order to set Scotland’s largest public pension fund on a fossil free path. Similar funds such as the Cardiff, Lambeth and Waltham Forest pension funds have already committed to go fossil fuel free and the Strathclyde Pension Fund can join them. Divestment from climate polluters could provide global leadership as Glasgow prepares to host the crucial UN climate talks, helping lead billions of pounds into green investments.”