Yorkshire MPs call for parliamentary pension fund to divest from fossil fuels

More than half of Yorkshire’s MPs have called on the trustees of the £700m Parliamentary Pension Fund to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

Some 31 of the region’s MPs from across the parties have joined the bid, headed by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

The fund currently holds £11.6m of shares in BP Plc, and £10.9m in Royal Dutch Shell.

A subset of Yorkshire-based MPs have also joined local councillors in calling for council pension funds to divest. This comes after recent data showed Yorkshire council pension funds subsidise fossil fuel companies to the tune of £1.82bn

It also follows Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency in May this year and puts pressure on the trustees of the fund as they prepare to announce a new Climate Change Investment Policy in November.

If the trustees agree to the MPs’ demands it will be a strong symbolic boost for the global movement to divest from fossil fuels.

Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West, is one of those backing the cause. He said: “I'm proud that so many of my colleagues who represent Yorkshire are among the 300 MPs calling for our pension fund to drop fossil fuels.

“It's time to withdraw all forms of support from the industry most responsible for climate breakdown and instead begin to fund the transition to a sustainable economy. I hope the trustees of the fund, as well as those of council funds in Yorkshire, hear this call to respond to the climate emergency and take action.”

Leeds North West Labour MP Alex Sobel. Photo: JPI Media

Jane Thewlis, who lives in Bradford, is a West Yorkshire Pension Fund member, and Divest WYPF campaigner, said: “As a member of a pension fund heavily invested in fossil fuels, I'm heartened to see my local political representatives join such a broad political coalition in calling for divestment. Local councillors, as trustees of large pension funds across the UK, must listen to their constituents and take action. The fossil fuel industry is destroying our shared home and threatening millions of lives around the world, as well as putting our pensions at risk.”

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, the Environmental Audit Committee and major global fund managers, have warned that ordinary people’s pensions are now at risk because they are exposed to overvalued carbon assets as the world moves quickly towards cheaper, greener renewables, and governments legislate for net-zero emissions.