Analysis published by Friends of the Earth Scotland yesterday revealed that the Scottish Parliament Pension Fund has over £2 million invested in fossil fuels, and a further £1 million in arms and tobacco.
Friends of the Earth Scotland will be asking MSPs and other scheme members to: 1. Ask the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme to introduce a robust policy to invest sustainably and divest from fossil fuels, arms and tobacco and, 2. Back moves to give pension fund members across Scotland more control over the way money is invested on their behalf.
Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland finance campaigner said: “Scotland has world-leading climate targets and will reach an important milestone in cutting carbon emissions next year when we stop burning coal for electricity. However, the Parliament pensions continue to invest in companies like BHP Billiton, whose mines are destroying communities in a relentless drive to get more coal out of the ground.”
“Pensions funds exist to sustain us for the future. MSPs should challenge their pension fund to contribute to a future that’s worth living in.”
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Over the weekend Friends of the Earth Scotland is shedding light on one of the worst companies on the Scottish Parliament fund’s books: UK-based mining company BHP Billiton.
Samuel Arregoces 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. Danilo Urrea, CENSAT (Friends of the Earth Colombia), campaigns to reform the Colombian Government’s mining policies.
Danilo and Samuel came to the Scottish Parliament to speak out about its investments in fossil fuels. Samuel said: “The story of the coal mining in Colombia has been 30 years of destruction, 30 years of sadness, 30 years of pain.
“The mining company has privatised our water. The little water we have is under their territorial control. We cannot grow on our land and the little land we have left is contaminated. We cannot live a healthy life; the water, rivers and streams and waters are polluted. We are uprooted.”
Danilo said: “One person in La Guajira can use less than 1 litre of water per day. The Cerrejon mine uses more than 30 million litres in a single day.
“The extractive industries are not sustainable; they create voluntary systems that pretend to be sustainable, but really the negate the rights of the communities.
“The investments from the likes of pension funds leave us with a big problem, which is the financialisation of nature.”
The Scottish Parliament Pension Fund also invests in tobacco companies who are attacking public health legislation – British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco are currently taking the UK Government to court for revenues lost over the cigarette packaging ban and Rolls-Royce, who are involved in the replacement of Trident submarines.
The Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme provides benefits to MSPs and office holders of the Scottish Parliament, including the Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission.
Ric Lander, Friends of the Earth Scotland concluded: “Danilo and Samuel’s case is just one example of the damage MSPs money is doing to communities in the global south.
“We need to hold companies like BHP Billiton to account for these injustices. MSPs can do this by publicly turning away from fossil fuel companies like BHP Billiton and directing much needed investment to social housing and clean energy.”