Three in four Scots back Holyrood pension divestment from weapons, tobacco and dirty fuels, poll finds

Three in four Scots think the £3mn MSP pension scheme should stop investing in weapons, tobacco and dirty fuels, new polling has revealed

NEW POLLING conducted for the Scottish Green Party has shown widespread public support for divestment of the Holyrood pension scheme from harmful investments, which campaigners say is currently complicit in the "misery" caused by warfare, climate change and the legacy of the tobacco industry.

A new poll of 1,000 Scots by Survation revealed 72 per cent think the multi-million pound MSP pension fund should not be able to invest in weapons, tobacco and dirty fuels. 

Figures from Scottish Parliament's corporate body in 2014 showed that 4 per cent of the pension fund was invested in oil and gas, 1 per cent in oil and gas equipment and distribution, 2 per cent in tobacco and 4 per cent in the arms industry. 

Read more: Campaign to divest parliamentary pensions from fossil fuels grows ahead of climate summit

John Finnie MSP, justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and a consistent campaigner on the issue will question the parliament's corporate body on Thursday (8 March) about its pension fund investment strategy and whether current and former MSPs will be consulted about which industries their pensions support.

Speaking when the new polling was released, Finnie said: "The pension fund for MSPs and their staff is complicit in the misery caused by warfare, climate change and the legacy of the tobacco industry. Anyone with an ounce of ethics would want this fund to get out of those investments, and it's now clear that is also the view of most Scots.

"The managers of Holyrood's fund cannot wring their hands any longer. In light of major divestment announcements recently from the likes of Edinburgh University, Lloyd's of London and even New York City, there's simply no excuse. I will continue to press for change."

"The pension fund for MSPs and their staff is complicit in the misery caused by warfare, climate change and the legacy of the tobacco industry.” John Finnie MSP

Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon welcomed the polling: "The Scottish Parliament has shown strong leadership on climate change in the past and should insist the pension fund stops investing in companies that are contributing to the destruction of our climate.

“These funds cannot provide for a safe future whilst backing the business-as-usual models of oil and gas companies intent to drill every last drop, despite the climate consequences.

"The record high temperatures in the Arctic and the enormous impact of extreme weather events in these islands highlight the climate emergency we are currently facing.

“Scottish students and Universities have led the way with at least 7 institutions making firm commitments to break free of fossil fuel investments.  With a new climate bill coming soon the Scottish Parliament’s pension scheme needs to help deliver a fossil-free future for Scotland rather than clinging to the destructive past."

A number of Scottish universities such as Glasgow and Queen Margaret University have also committed to divesting from the fossil fuel industry, and were joined by Edinburgh University last month who said it would withdraw from fossil fuel investments. 

"All public sector pension funds should find ways to divest from industries that harm people and planet.” Duncan Thorp, director of Social Enterprise Scotland

Duncan Thorp, director of Social Enterprise Scotland, said public sector pensions must embrace ethical investment: "All public sector pension funds should find ways to divest from industries that harm people and planet.

“There are many opportunities for these huge pension funds to pro-actively invest in ethical alternatives.

“Innovative social investment is being driven forward by The University of Edinburgh, Triodos Bank, Social Investment Scotland and many others."

Picture courtesy of SteveR 

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