I was pleased to take part in Sir Edward Davey’s debate on investment in fossil fuel companies by pension funds. I called for greater transparency regarding where pension funds are invested and greater choice for employees to choose sustainable and secure investments. Empowering consumers will have a greater impact when it comes to caring for our natural environment. #DivestParliament
My speech in full:
In 2018, the Government said they would update the law to require trustees to consider the impact of their investment on a changing environment. That has now been implemented. I congratulate the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) on securing this debate, He clearly set out the changing environment in the world of fossil fuel companies. Pensions funds are investments for many years. Our job in this place is to ensure that people who invest in a pension fund, but who do not necessarily have the power to decide where their money is invested, can be confident that their pension is secure and will provide the retirement that they expect.
Is a pension fund in a fossil fuel a sound investment? Evidence suggests it is not. The Government, for example, are introducing a ban on carbon-fuelled new cars in 2040. Calor, which I met last year, has committed to 100% BioLPG by 2040. This month, a whole week went by in which no energy generation came from coal-fired energy plants. Our focus should be on ensuring a secure future for pension fund savers, and investment in fossil fuel does not provide that. It should also be on the choices that pension fund owners want to make. Many employees have no choice in where their pension contributions end up, and increasing numbers of people would be horrified if they thought that the funds they hold were invested in fossil fuels, when at home they do all they can to reduce their carbon footprint.
I heard what was said earlier about the need to invest in companies for research and development to provide cleaner and carbon-free fuels. I am sure that, given a choice, people would welcome that, but they need to be given a choice about where their funds end up, and they need their funds to be secure and invested in something that they feel comfortable with. The Government have a real opportunity to support employees and to ensure greater transparency in where their money ends up and where the pension funds put their money, as well as greater choice in pension markets. Empowering consumers will have a greater impact when it comes to caring for our natural environment.