UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 22 February 2010

UNISON pension scheme members mobilise for environmentally responsible investment‏

UNISON is supporting a nation-wide coalition of organisations to begin an unprecedented mobilisation of pension fund members and the public to petition their pension funds in support of oil sands resolutions due to be voted on at the BP and Shell AGMs this Spring.

BP plc and Royal Dutch Shell plc have confirmed that the resolutions are valid, and will be discussed at their AGMs on 15 April 2010 (TBC) and 18th May 2010 respectively.

Today (22 February) UNISON with support from FairPensions launches an innovative new internet tool which, for the first time, enables individuals to contact their pension providers requesting that they back the resolutions.

The union wants you to support the campaign by asking your fund to vote in favour of the resolutions. You can do this by going to the following address finding your pension fund and sending the letter. http://fairpensions.org.uk/unison/tarsands

In a press release Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said "UNISON's staff pension co-filed these resolutions and now we're getting the word out to our 1.3 million members in Britain's public services, encouraging them to express support to their pension funds and savings institutions. Our members’ pension funds have an estimated investment value of £250bn so at UNISON we understand the need for a low carbon economy. We're not convinced that exploitation of tar sands is a responsible choice for the future. These resolutions demand the clear answers from oil companies which our members need and deserve."

Oil sands (also known as tar sands) are amongst the world’s most controversial industrial projects due to the extremely high levels of carbon emissions (conversion into fuel produces on average 3 times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional oil), huge quantities of toxic waste produced, local air and water pollution, deforestation, and indigenous community impacts.

The resolutions, which were co-filed by a diverse group of fund managers, pension funds, including the UNISON staff fund, foundations and faith groups in the largest coalition of its kind seen in the UK, call upon BP and Shell to report on the investment risks associated with tar sands projects and their plans to address them, citing greenhouse gas emissions, environmental damage and impacts upon indigenous communities.

This follows investor concerns that these companies are failing to properly account for future legislation over carbon emissions, high operational costs, environmental clean up costs and the risk of litigation as a result of indigenous community impacts. Resolution co-filers feel this is not a prudent approach and the companies are risking both financial and reputational damage in the long term by developing what some investors view to be toxic assets.

You can find out more about the campaign and download leaflets at

To read coverage on the responsible investor website go to: