22 May 2019
East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson has joined a cross-party group of over 200 MPs and former MPs that has called on the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) to phase out its substantial investment in fossil fuel giants such as Shell and BP, following growing concerns about climate change.
The DUP MP is the first Member of Parliament from Northern Ireland to sign the Divest Parliament Pledge that calls on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to review and phase out investments in fossil fuel companies. He joins a group of over 200 cross-party MPs and former MPs who have already signed the pledge. The call follows growing concern among constituents about the environmental, social and financial risks posed by climate change.
Gavin Robinson MP, said: “Politicians from all quarters of the UK need to take urgent political action to press for further reductions in carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels. That is why I am pleased to be the first MP in Northern Ireland to support the cross-party Divest Parliament campaign to move investments in the MPs Pension Fund away from fossil fuels and towards renewables technologies. Pension funds need to stop investing in companies that aren’t committed to bringing about a clean energy future.”
The cross-party group consists of more than 200 current and former MPs from the main political parties across the UK: Conservative, Labour, Scottish Nationalists, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and now the Democratic Unionist Party. Prominent MPs that have also signed the pledge are Justine Greening (CON), Hilary Benn (LAB), Sir Vince Cable (LIBDEM) and Lord Deben (CON) - chairman of the UK’s Independent Committee on Climate Change. The campaign was started in 2014 by a small group of MPs and their first success was to pressure the trustees of the MPs Pension Fund to disclose its investments, revealing that the largest individual holding is in BP PLC. On average, fossil fuel companies dedicate only 1% of their spending to clean energy projects.
Gavin Robinson MP signed after meeting concerned constituents, including a new mother and a school pupil. He also received a number of letters about the MPs’ Pension Fund policy of investing in fossil fuel companies.
Helen Newell, from the Belfast East constituency, said: “I am really please Gavin Robinson MP has signed this pledge. Political leaders should not be heavily investing in fossil fuels through their pensions when the climate science is unequivocal: the vast majority of fossil fuels must stay in the ground to contain global warming between 1.5 and 2 degrees. We must invest in a world powered by clean energy to create jobs, improve our health and tackle climate change.”
If successful, the campaign would see the Parliament in Westminster joining investors such as the Church of Ireland and Queen’s University Belfast in committing to fossil fuel divestment.