Sunday, 25 October 2015

Call to Divest Pensions

This evening, I spoke at a meeting of the Divest Tour in Glasgow.  Friends of the Earth Scotland organised this Tour to shed light on one of the UK-based mining company, BHP Billiton.

It provided an opportunity to hear from Samuel Arregoces, who is from the village of Tabaco, a community of small-scale farmers of African descent which was brutally evicted in 2001 to make way for expansion of the massive Cerrejon opencast coal mine, now jointly owned by BHP Billiton. In addition, Danilo Urrea, CENSAT (Friends of the Earth Colombia), provided a description of his experience of campaigns to reform the Colombian Government’s mining policies.  Danilo and Samuel spoke out about the destructive impact of investments in fossil fuels, with reference to the coal mining in Colombia over the last 30 years.

Supporters of the Divest Tour

As you are aware, fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - are the main driver of climate change. To support a healthy, safe climate, we have to keep these remaining fossil fuels in the ground. 
The fossil fuel companies like BHP Billiton are mining and seeking to expand their exploration, polluting sensitive environments and destroying the livelihoods of local people.

In my role as a Councillor, I have pushed for a study by Strathclyde Pension Funds in to fossil fuel divestment.  Green Councillors put forward a motion at Glasgow City Council meeting on 2nd April 2015 which was agreed unanimously, as follows:-

"Notes the decisions by the City of Oslo, Edinburgh City Council, Oxford City Council, Dunedin City Council in New Zealand and the University of Glasgow, to agree to partially or completely divest their pension funds from companies whose main purpose is extracting fossil fuels.
Notes the Council's fiduciary duty must be paramount in all decision making around pension funds.
Notes that recent studies, including the Impex Asset Management, have found that fossil fuel-based funds which exclude fossil fuels, and further notes reports including from business leadership think-tank Ceres which identify unreported risks in fossil fuel funds, which suggest the fiduciary duty may be best served by divestment from fossil fuels.
Notes recent clarification from Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney MSP that local authorities may decide that fulfilment of their Public Bodies Duties under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 requires them to reduce the carbon emissions associated with their funds and investments."

As a result of the motion, a report entitled "Feasibility Study of Fossil Fuel Divestment" was considered by Strathclyde Pension Fund on 31st August 2015. It made a recommendation which did not secure divestment from fossil fuels. 

Further enquiries about this Fund's investment in UK-based mining company, BHP Billiton will be made in the coming weeks.

Useful link:

Divest Scotland -

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