CAMPAIGNERS have called on a Scottish pension fund to pull out of fossil fuels after the revelation that its investments have a carbon footprint equivalent to of over one million tonnes of CO2.

And they say that such investments are putting people’s pensions at risk as a result of possible devaluation of fossil fuel companies’ assets because of increasingly restrictive climate legislation.

Lothian Pension Fund’s figure of 1,292,000 tonnes is so high it means that if it were a business it would be the third highest emitter in the country – with significantly higher emissions than the ExxonMobil chemical plant at Mossmorran. It also means the fund, which invests the pensions of local government and public body employees in Edinburgh and the Lothians, is responsible for as much carbon dioxide equivalent as a quarter of all the cars on Scotland’s roads.

New figures show as of last year, Lothian Pension Fund had £153m invested in coal, oil and gas companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell. The total investment in fossil fuel firms across Scottish council pension funds amounted to £1.81bn.

Campaigning group Divest Lothian say the huge climate impact of the fund “makes a mockery” of Edinburgh City Council’s vision for a low carbon, resource-efficient Edinburgh by 2020 and its status as a signatory to the Aalborg commitments for sustainable cities.

The group also claims that continuing to invest in fossil fuels is putting the pensions of local government and public body employees in danger because of the likelihood of fossil fuel companies’ assets losing value as countries switch to renewable energy.

“It is financially irresponsible to continue investing in companies such as Shell and BP whose businesses are based on fossil fuels when the world is shifting away from this polluting industry and towards renewable energy,” said Eva Schonveld of Divest Lothian.

“As governments around the world implement legislation to tackle climate change and plastic pollution, this could have a significant negative impact on these companies’ share values and the pensions of almost 80,000 current and former public sector workers in Edinburgh and the Lothians.”

Lothian Pension Fund’s claims its fund strives to “improve the sustainability” of the companies in which it invests through shareholder engagement.

However, a Freedom of Information request revealed the company contracted to vote and engage on behalf of the fund, Hermes EOS, “does not provide a service to manage financial risks associated with climate change”.?Divest Lothian are now calling on the fund to remove its investments from fossil fuel extraction and production companies over the next five years.

Fifteen Edinburgh councillors, including Lord Provost Frank Ross (SNP), have backed the call.

Edinburgh Council leader and former Pensions Committee member Adam McVey has not signed the pledge but said: “It seems counterintuitive for a pension fund, which relies on long-term returns to pay members upon retirement, to invest in unsustainable activities like fossil fuel extraction.

“I hope as we move forward, the companies which the pension fund holds shares in can remove themselves from unsustainable activities and if they can’t, that the pension fund seriously considers divesting from these firms and focusing investments in more sustainable long-term activities for the good of our planet and the members dependent on the fund’s performance.”?Former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned investors face “potentially huge” losses as fossil fuel companies’ assets could be left “stranded” due to climate change legislation.

Divest Lothian wants divested funds to be invested in renewable energy companies and other sustainable businesses which could benefit the local community and are not exposed to risk of devaluation as fossil fuel demand falls.