Orkney Islands Council are investing heavily in the companies most responsible for climate change whilst failing to invest in green infrastructure, according to a new report published by Common Weal, UNISON Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland. Reinvest Scotland
The investments are held through the council’s pension fund and should be invested for the long-term benefit of pension fund members. Oil, gas and coal companies are financially risky as government action on climate change threatens their long-term viability.
The report found that Orkney Islands Council:
- Invested £8.2 million in fossil fuel stocks
- Have not invested any of their pension fund in renewable energy
- Offered no evidence of having discussed how climate change affects their investment strategy
- Scottish Council Pension Funds in total have £1.7 billion invested in fossil fuel stocks and shares
Orkney Islands Council invests £1.9 million in Shell, who are fracking in North America and accused of being responsible for a series of spills in Nigeria, and £420,246 in BHP Billiton, the 12th largest extractor of coal in the world, currently mining in the centre of the Borneo rainforest and facing prosecution over Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster.
The report found that, in contrast with other Scottish councils, Orkney Islands Council were not investing any of their pension fund in renewable energy or social housing projects.
Ric Lander, Divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland and report author commented:
“Council pension funds have huge clout and can shape our future. It’s time they used this power to invest in a future worth living in.”
“Only three councils have any investments in social housing and renewable energy in Scotland despite strong returns available and many local benefits of these schemes. The majority of council pensions are invested in stocks and shares, which bring few tangible local benefits.”
“Divesting from fossil fuels is an opportunity to contribute to a brighter future. That would be good news for Orkney Island pension fund members and good news for all of us. With Scotland going to the polls for local elections in May we want to see prospective councillors getting serious about responsible investment.”
UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson commented:
“Too many of our pension funds are investing in obsolete technologies and risking our members hard earned contributions. The future of energy is green, and it is within sight. Our pension funds need to be part of the future, not the past.”
Five local council pension funds in the UK have committed to cut their fossil fuel investments: Haringey, Waltham Forest, Southwark, the Environment Agency Pension Fund, and South Yorkshire. None of the councils that have divested are in Scotland, questioning Scotland’s claim to be leading on climate change.
Across the world 701 institutions, with total investments valued at $5.5 trillion USD, have committed to divest from fossil fuels .
Top five fossil fuel investments of Orkney Islands Council:
Royal Dutch Shell / £1.9m
EOG Resources / £1.5m
Apache / £1.5m
Rio Tinto / £666,826
BHP Billiton / £420,246
Fossil fuel investments by council pension fund:
Strathclyde / £889.8m
Tayside / £131.1m
North East / £124.1m
Falkirk / £119.6m
Lothian / £104.3m
Highland / £92.3m
Fife / £89.6m
Dumfries & Galloway / £70.5m
Shetland / £30.8m
Scottish Borders / £23.4m
Orkney / £8.2m
More information at Reinvest Scotland
Common Weal have also raised questions about Councils investing Pension Fund money in the arms trade.
They are associated with the Quaker movement, and have no political axe to grind. They are interested in…..the common weal.