THERE are calls for Wee County pension funds not to be channelled into fossil fuel companies.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell has renewed calls for the Falkirk Council Pension Fund to stop “bankrolling oil companies” after research revealed it lost nearly £35million over three years.

The pension pot manages funds for three councils, including Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Falkirk.

Mr Ruskell pointed to analysis commissioned by Friends of the Earth Scotland, which showed that Falkirk Council Pension Fund lost £34,769,723 by investing in oil companies between April 2017 and November 2020.

This represented 1.69 per cent of the total value of the pension pot.

At the same time, the most recent audited annual accounts from the fund show it is still in positive cash flow territory, growing by around £14m in 2019-20.

Investment holdings of the fund include more than £13m in Royal Dutch Shell and around £12m in BP.

Renewing calls for a change, MSP Ruskell said: “Public pension funds invest millions in bankrolling oil companies, the arms industry and big tobacco every year.

“Not only are these investments unethical, but as this research shows they are actually losing pension funds substantial amounts of money.

“I don’t believe that most people who have chosen a career in public service want to see their pension funds funnelling cash into these companies when this it could be invested in socially responsible endeavours like clean energy production, house building and public transport improvements.”

The Advertiser contacted the pension fund, asking if the research was accurate.

A spokeswoman for the Falkirk Pension Fund said: “The Falkirk Pension Fund invests in a wide range of assets to help pay for the £80m of benefits to pensioners each year.

“The value of the fund’s assets change on a daily basis and it is no surprise that valuations have fallen in the face of financial market concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic.

“No pensioner benefits are affected by changes in asset valuation as benefits are guaranteed and do not depend on investment performance.

“We are very much strong advocates of companies taking action to be more carbon efficient but cannot forget that our primary responsibilities are to manage the pension fund for the benefit of all our stakeholders.

“We think the best way to do this is to run a well‐diversified portfolio whilst having robust conversations with the companies we invest in.”

She explained the fund was a member of several lobby groups committed to seeking a “just transition” and co-filed climate change resolutions at BP and Barclays, the latter “leading directly to Barclays unveiling their 2050 net zero ambition”.

The spokeswoman added: “We are also signatories to a recent letter to the PM calling for ambitious national contributions to be pledged for meeting net zero targets.

“In investing in the manner we do, we are acting in accordance with the pension scheme rules that have been set by government.”