Climate activists stage dance demonstration outside pension conference

Campaigners performed a disco-themed 'Stayin’ Alive' routine outside the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association conference.

Climate activists have staged a dance protest outside a pensions conference as they call on funds to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

Extinction Rebellion Scotland, Divest Lothian and Global Justice Now Scotland campaigners performed a disco-themed “Stayin’ Alive” routine outside the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association conference in Edinburgh on Wednesday morning.

They are calling on funds to end investments in fossil fuel companies which they say are worsening the climate crisis.

The campaigners urged conference delegates to heed recent reports by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the independent financial think tank Carbon Tracker which suggested the economic models used by pension funds are significantly underestimating climate risk.

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The protesters claim funds’ investment strategies are delaying the urgent action needed to tackle the climate emergency and are also putting people’s retirement incomes at risk.

Elizabeth Matthews, from Extinction Rebellion Scotland, said: “The current flawed climate risk models used by pension funds are dangerous and foolhardy.

“If we are to have a viable economy for today’s workers to retire into, it is critical that urgent action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions this decade.

“Pension fund managers must stop being duped by fossil fuel companies and act.”

Activists gathered outside the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, where the conference is taking place.

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Joan Forehand, of Divest Lothian, said: “It is crystal clear from the reports we are highlighting today that the pension industry can no longer, in good faith, accept the woefully flawed climate risk advice they have been receiving.

“To act in the interests of their members they must unleash their vast investment resources into companies that are serious about driving down carbon emissions quickly.

“Remaining invested in fossil fuel companies is a recipe for climate and economic breakdown.”

Tiffany Tsang, of Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), said: “Extinction Rebellion Scotland, Divest Lothian and Global Justice Now Scotland were polite, fun and engaging in their interaction with our delegates this morning, reflecting their commitment to a productive dialogue on a sustainable future.

“The PLSA and its members have a proactive approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. Addressing the challenges of net zero remains a priority for us.

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“Sustainable investing is a key focus of our investment conference in Edinburgh, as it was at our dedicated ESG conference in November 2023.

“We also support our members on this issue through policy papers such as A Changing Climate, and guidance documents such as Towards A Greener Future: Case Studies From The Pension Sector.”

Offshore Energies UK has been asked for comment.

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