Rebecca Long-Bailey MP: MPs must kick start a shift away from fossil fuels in the pension sector
The Parliamentary Pension Fund is investing millions in fossil fuel companies. In government, Labour will say “no more” to fossil fuel companies, says Rebecca Long-Bailey MP.
Last month, an extraordinary six million people around the world marched in climate strikes, protesting against the scandal of inaction on climate change. Schoolchildren, workers, activists and trade unionists came together to demand that politicians recognise our situation for what it is: a climate and environment emergency.
Public demand for substantive climate action has grown rapidly over the past year. We can all see and feel what the scientists are telling us: climate breakdown is accelerating and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and deadly.
Labour, alone among the mainstream political parties, has heard this message and acted on it. Earlier this year, we led the charge for our Parliament to be the first in the world to formally declare a climate and environment emergency.
And we’ve laid out detailed, credible plans for a Green Industrial Revolution, reducing our carbon emissions to net zero in the shortest space of time possible while ensuring a just transition for workers and their families, particularly those in carbon-intensive industries.
This will include large-scale investments in renewable energy, better housing and sustainable public transport. Only last month I announced plans for a fivefold increase in the UK’s offshore wind capacity, with the public sector taking a 51 per cent stake in new wind farms to ensure our deindustrialised communities benefit from transition.
Compare that to the Tories, who are cutting green schemes while forcing through dangerous fracking and offering tax relief to oil and gas corporations. Boris Johnson and his cronies are happy to pose with reusable cups to flaunt their green credentials but when it comes to the fossil fuel industry it’s business as usual.
Labour, on the other hand, understands that real change cannot happen without a rejection of business as usual. It was the fossil fuel industry that got us into this crisis, with 71 per cent of global emissions caused by only 100 companies. Existing fossil fuel energy infrastructure already jeopardises our 1.5°C target under the Paris Agreement, with oil and gas companies having approved new carbon projects worth $50 billion since 2018. And the oil and gas companies are spending millions on lobbying to block climate change plans such as Labour’s.
Despite all this, global fossil fuel subsidies still amount to a staggering $5 trillion each year, with the UK injecting more money into dirty energy than any other country in the EU. Even my own pension fund -– the Parliamentary Pension Fund – is investing millions in fossil fuel companies. That’s why in government, Labour will say “no more” to fossil fuel companies such as BP and Shell, and do so loudly and unequivocally.
That's why we’re looking into delisting companies from the London Stock Exchange if they fail tackle climate change.
Before that happens, MPs have a chance to act. A growing number of my friends and colleagues in parliament are saying ‘no more’. 300 MPs – 195 of them from my party – have now signed the Divest Parliament Pledge, calling on the trustees of the Parliamentary Pension Fund to stop investing in an industry that is destroying our future.
So when the trustees of my own pension fund announce their new Investment Policy in November, I sincerely hope that a “no more” to fossil fuels will feature alongside exciting and positive new investments in green technologies. As MPs, let’s put our money where our mouth is and kick start a shift away from fossil fuels in the pension sector.
The six million climate strikers will rightly condemn anything short of that as failure.
Rebecca Long-Bailey is Labour MP for Salford and Eccles and Shadow Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Secretary.
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