EDINBURGH – In a departure from the fossil fuel disinvesting trend, Scottish local authorities are pouring £1.7 billion in 52 fossil fuel companies, realizing perhaps its bounty of hydrocarbon resources, according to a news article in the Ferret.
Pension funds for more than half a million council staff are being poured into oil, gas and coal companies. The revelation has shocked pension fund members, angered campaigners and upset trade unionists, who are all calling for fossil fuel investment to be phased out. But the investments have been defended by councils and the industry.
The company given the most money by Scotland’s 11 council pension schemes is the oil and gas giant, Shell, which received nearly £130 million of investments in 2015-16. The coal and mining multinational, Rio Tinto, was given £74 million, BP £64 million and ExxonMobil £44 million.
The Scottish local government pension scheme has 505,769 members and total funds of £35.4bn. Nearly five per cent of its funds were invested in fossil fuels, equivalent to about £3,300 for every member.
Globally, 701 institutions with total investments valued at £4.5 trillion have promised to pull out of fossil fuels. Four local authority pension schemes in England – Haringey, Waltham Forest, Southwark and South Yorkshire – have made commitments to cut their fossil fuel investments.