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Council’s pension pot criticised

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By Donald Turvill
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Council’s pension pot criticised

DUMFRIES and Galloway Council has invested tens of millions of pounds in fossil fuel firms despite comittments to fight climate change.

The findings come from a new report published by environmental organisation Friends of the Earth Scotland and reveal that the local authority’s pension fund currently has £31,165,479 invested in climate-polluting companies.

The Dumfries and Galloway Pension Fund administers the pensions of about 16,000 local public employees of the council, college, police and the fire and rescue service.

The council has chosen to keep its stake in the coal, oil and gas firms despite declaring a climate emergency almost two years ago and having a target of zero net carbon emissions to meet by 2025.

Upon making the climate emergency announcement in June 2019, Dumfries and Galloway Council pledged to “lead on the transition to cleaner and greener technologies”.

For climate activists like Steven McCracken from Extinction Rebellion Dumfries and Galloway, the local authority’s declaration represented a political forward step in the monumental challenge of reducing global warming.

And so Steven said it was “surprising and disappointing” to learn that the council continues to investment in major polluters.

He added: “This clearly isn’t in keeping with their commitment to net zero emissions and we call on the council to stop funding industries that are driving us towards climate catastrophe.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council failed to comment.

Ric Lander, divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, commented: “With the world coming to Scotland this Autumn to negotiate action on the climate crisis, pension funds now have a clear deadline for addressing their polluting investments. Local councillors have the opportunity to show leadership on climate action by telling fund managers to divest from fossil fuels.

“Many local authorities have declared a climate emergency and have plans in place to bring down emissions from transport, buildings and waste. Pension fund investments are currently working against this progress by continuing to back the ageing fossil fuel economy.

“Scottish council pensions are directly invested in the continued search for new fossil fuels through their ownership of companies like Shell and BP. This drive is undermining efforts to curb the climate emergency here in Scotland and doing untold damage to vulnerable communities around the world.

“Local authorities have the power and duty to ensure local workers have a pension for their retirement, but also a future worth retiring into. Instead of stubbornly sticking with old systems of investment that worsen climate breakdown, councils should boost investment in renewable energy and social housing.”

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