May 22, 2019 / 12:55 PM / a month ago

British lawmakers demand their pension fund divests fossil fuels

LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) - A third of British lawmakers called on Wednesday for their 700 million pound ($885 million) parliamentary pension fund to divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies to address the climate change "emergency".

Pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, religious groups and universities have sold oil, gas and coal stocks in recent years because of their impact on climate change.

Britain's parliament declared a symbolic climate change "emergency" this month. Although it has no direct consequences for policy, it was seen as a nod to increasingly vocal activist movement demanding change.

Globally, more than 1,000 funds with assets in excess of $8.7 trillion have made divestment commitments, including Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest.

"The climate emergency demands that all pension funds divest from fossil fuels and invest in positive solutions to the climate crisis," British Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said, ahead of an expected parliamentary debate on the issue.

A third of the 650 serving members of parliament (MP) from different parties and 29 former MPs have been calling on Britain's Parliamentary Pension Fund since 2014 to disclose its investments in carbon-intensive industries and commit to phasing out fossil fuel investments.

The fund holds around 11.7 million pounds of shares in oil major BP and nearly 11 million pounds in Royal Dutch Shell.

Activists on Tuesday disrupted BP's annual shareholder meeting, a day after protestors blockaded the entrance to its London headquarters, demanding it end all new oil and gas exploration. ($1 = 0.7906 pounds) (Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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