ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have demanded Falkirk council end their £131m investment in fossil fuel firms paid through their pension fund.

Climate activists staged a protest in Falkirk High Street on Friday last week in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike and called for an end to oil and gas.

The campaigners have urged Falkirk Council to remove the cash from fossil fuel companies and instead support renewable energies instead.

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A council spokesperson said that the “carbon related investments” are only a small proportion of the fund’s total portfolio - which sits at around £3 billion - and that this is reducing every year.

The Falkirk Pension Fund, run by Falkirk Council, administers the pension funds of over 30,000 members from Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils.

The pension fund also manages the pensions of around 30 employers, including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Autism.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland revealed that the most recently available data from March 2021 show that Falkirk Pension Fund invests in several of the largest global fossil fuel producers, including BP, Shell and Anglo American, as well as in mining giant BHP, despite the council declaring a climate emergency in 2019.

The National:

Activists in Falkirk last week called for a divestment from fossil fuels

Dylan Welsh, Falkirk climate champion with the Scottish Youth Climate Programme said: “The massive amount of money in this pension scheme is an essential tool to support those going into retirement, however, who we decide to invest this money with can have a massive impact.

“Divesting this money from the polluting and destructive fossil fuel industry and instead deciding to invest in green and renewable energy providers will ensure that we have a safer and healthier world to retire into.”

UK-based BP is one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers. The company was fined $18.7 billion, the largest environmental fine in US history, for the ‘gross negligence’ regarding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill which devastated the Gulf of Mexico.

And, BP’s current and former Chief Executives have sat on the Board of the Russian oil company Rosneft.

Shell was also recently said to be reconsidering whether to press ahead with the controversial Cambo oil field situated off the coast of Shetland. This is despite major opposition from environmental campaigners and the First Minister’s objections due to the climate impacts of further North Sea oil and gas production.

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Shell has been associated with a number of environmental and human rights violations worldwide, including conducting shale gas fracking, a highly polluting form of drilling which is effectively banned in Scotland.

The research estimates that the value of the pension fund’s investments in coal, oil and gas companies has increased from £92 million in March 2020 to the current total of £131 million.

Cerys Gough, youth climate striker with Fridays for Future Scotland, said: “Young people and communities around the world who have done the least to create the climate crisis are already suffering the most.

“We’re striking in Scotland and in countries across the world to call for climate justice and to stand in solidarity with people whose power has been stolen by fossil fuel companies and other big polluters.

The National:

Campaigners have called for the funds to be invested in renewables and green jobs instead

“It’s time for Falkirk Council and other councils in Scotland to take action to protect our future and stop investing in planet-wrecking fossil fuels.”

Richard Dyer from Friends of the Earth Falkirk called on the council to divest the £131m and instead invest in renewables and green jobs.

He added: “With Ineos, one of Scotland's most polluting fossil fuel companies, just down the road in Grangemouth, Falkirk Pension Fund could also support the Just Transition of workers from polluting industries and promote a healthier environment for all.”

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A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said: “The Fund is made up from a wide mix of investments and is already actively investing in a number of environmental focused funds.

“The carbon related investments mentioned are a tiny percentage of the Fund’s total portfolio of over £3bn and are reducing every year.

“We have already have an approved policy of active engagement with the relevant companies mentioned and it is proving effective. Many of the targeted companies are