NEXT week, the Greens will lead Glasgow City Council to make a pivotal financial decision about stopping the investment of pension funds into fossil fuels.

The Strathclyde Pension Fund, administered by Glasgow City Council, has 250,000 members contributing to it and relying on it to pay for their retirement. The question is what kind of retirement is that going to be? For the youngest workers in the scheme who won’t retire until 2060, that future is of total climate breakdown – unless we take drastic action in the next 9 years. All workers have a right to be treated equally, so removing investment from the companies that are ruining our future is a question of fairness.

It’s a question of leadership, too. Strathclyde Pension Fund is one of the biggest in the UK. It’s currently investing over £500 million in planet-destroying fossil fuels – how embarrassing that is for the city that will host the world’s climate conference; but also how powerful it would be to take a lead on this issue.

We’re also asking how this enormous wealth could be better used – funding the green recovery we need. Investing in the latest renewables projects can create the kind of jobs we need, to source our energy in a sustainable way and also for a fair transition away from the boom and bust of the oil market for workers currently in an industry which has no future.

Glasgow Times: Glasgow City Chambers Glasgow City Chambers

The reality of the end of the oil age is perhaps the most compelling argument about divesting from these companies. We know that the fossil fuels already discovered are beyond what can be burned in order to stay within the limit of planetary warming that the world committed to in the Paris Agreement. There is no scope for further extraction, and no need for exploration to new fields – oil must stay in the ground if we have a hope of limiting climate change before it’s too late.

So companies whose business revolves around extraction and exploration are doomed – and everyone investing in them is at a very real risk of watching the value of their investment go up in smoke. Financial experts know this is the case, BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, advised the New York City Pension Fund that divestment will not harm and may even boost its investment returns.

This council must ensure that every member of the fund is able to get their pension when they need it – we have a financial duty to make the most sound investments, and oil companies are not that. We also have an ethical duty to stop contributing to climate change that will most impact the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of Glasgow. That’s why the Greens will lead the city council to show real climate leadership, and call on the Strathclyde Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuel.

We know divestment is only one part of tackling the climate emergency, and we have to invest in a green recovery from the pandemic to build a fairer, greener city for us all. That’s why we are asking people to vote like our future depends on it – it really does.