Work and pensions select committee member and Labour MP Ruth George has called for the parliamentary pension scheme to divest from fossil fuels.
The MP for High Peak put her name to the Divest Parliament pledge which is a cross-party campaign to clean up the investments in politicians’ pension schemes.
MPs are automatically enrolled in the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund when elected to office. In 2017 it held assets of £733m.
The campaign, run by Fossil Free UK, demands the fund should phase out fossil fuel investments by freezing new investment in the 200 largest fossil fuel companies, and by divesting from fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds over five years.
It points out politicians asking for action on climate change should not simultaneously have their pension invested in companies with business models that frustrate climate solutions.
The campaign website states: “If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, it’s wrong to profit from the wreckage, and our MPs have a crucial role to play in challenging the political power of an industry that continues to profit from the climate chaos it creates.”
There is no publicly available full list of companies the scheme is invested in but according to its 2017 annual review BP and Shell are within its top 20 holdings.
George tells Money Marketing she signed the pledge to help wean the economy off fossil fuels.
She says: “At the 2017 general election, I stood on a manifesto that included a commitment to ensure we meet our climate change targets and transition to a low-carbon economy.
“I will therefore continue to support action to wean our economy off its dependence on fossil fuels and move towards clean and renewable energy.”
She points out the discrepancy between the trustees’ rhetoric and the schemes holdings.
She says: “The trustees of the PCPF say that they continue to discuss and engage with fund managers on financially material risks such as climate change.
“Yet the 2017 PCPF annual reviews shows that the fund continues to invest in BP and Royal Dutch Shell. I know that several MPs are therefore calling for the trustees to engage with PCPF members over its investments in fossil fuels.”
So far 178 current and past MPs have signed the pledge so far and the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, is due to meet with the scheme’s trustees in the autumn to discuss the divestment issue.