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Union commits to divesting Scottish LG pension funds away from fossil fuels

A union has announced it will campaign for the divestment of its local government pensions away from fossil fuels over the next five years.

Unison argues that the measures will be taken to reduce carbon emissions by moving pension funds away from coal, gas and oil.

Not only this, but the union said that investment in fossil fuels also poses a major risk to its members pension funds.

“Our pensions funds consist of billions of pounds spread across many areas to ensure sustainability,” said Stephen Smellie, Scotland regional representative of Unison.

“We need a successful investment strategy to pay our pensions. However, we do have a wider interest – good pensions might not help if the planet is frying.”

He went on to explain that when government actually keep to existing agreements to keep the temperature rise below 2 degrees, this limits fossil fuel use and drives down the share prices of BO, Shell and other fossil fuel companies – which would make pensions less valuable.

Due to 5% of Scottish local government pension funds (worth around £1.7bn) being invested in fossil fuel companies, Smellie continued to say that alternative strategies were needed to limit the impact on the environment.

“This won’t be easy, we do not yet have sufficient influence or power over our pension fund,” Smellie stated. “We need to engage with our members, with the councillors who sit on the finance committees, fund managers and stress on them that their legal and fiduciary duty requires them to divest.”

And Norah Adeyemo, from the Glasgow City Unison branch, added: “This motion is very relevant to our members and all of us. We need to mobilise about this issue in our communities and or planet. We need to mobilise about these issues in our communities and branches.”

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