Scotland’s Finance Minister John Swinney is due to confirm today whether or not the Scottish Government will sell its shareholdings in pension funds which invest in fossil-fuel energy companies, whilst calling on local government pensions funds to do likewise.
The Scottish Green party hopes that Swinney’s statement today in Holyrood will set a public sector lead, and take forward the recent example set by Glasgow University which last month said it would dump its shares held by its staff pension fund over the next decade.
Recently, Sweden’s National Pension Fund decided to divest £100 billion worth of fossil-fuel stocks.
The threat of such dis-investment is privately loathed by many senior executives in higher education and local authorities, who point out that the logical corollary of such a move could lead to a reduction in pensions paid to their staffs.
By the same logic, the pensions of Holyrood MPs – invested by the Scottish Government staff pension fund – could also be cut.
The Greens secured a new commitment from the Scottish Government to look at how it could encourage public sector pension funds to shift its investments away from fossil fuels and the Scottish Government is due to make a statement in today in Holyrood in reply.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP, said: “As the global-warnings from the scientists get more urgent, so our response must get more decisive. We need to see momentum building for a big financial shift from dirty to clean investments, and this means public investors being far more pro-active about which industries they back with their millions.
“The Scottish Government has expressed openness to the idea of using their pension funds to back a greener future, but I want to hear from Ministers how they plan to make this a top priority for action.”