In the UK pensions make up a combined value of 3 trillion pounds.

Of that, it’s possible 10% (or 300 billion pounds) is held in fossil fuel funds alone.

The combined power of the money held in these funds is immense – enabling and supporting the fossil fuel industry. Ironically saving for the future is putting the future of our children and grandchildren at peril. As David Attenborough has said “It is crazy that our banks and our pensions are investing in fossil fuels, when these are the very things that are jeopardising the future we are saving for.”

It doesn’t have to be this way though – a move away from fossil fuels can be an incredible force for good and also make a lot of business sense. Shell and BP have recently announced massive losses, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but also largely due to the future outlook for the fossil fuel industry as the world wakes up to the scale of the Climate Crisis.

“It is the "power of money" that will ultimately play the biggest role in combating climate change... whether it's a bank, or somebody who's investing a small amount of savings in the market, or your pension...they can choose to be part of the solution, transitioning to net zero, or be part of the problem.” Mark Carney - UN Special Envoy for Climate and Finance (former Governor of The Bank of England, 2013-2020)

Evidence shows that sustainable, resilient, well-run companies are more likely to perform better in the long run. With the recent declarations on widespread climate action from US President Joe Biden, fossil fuel businesses are being put on notice – companies such as Exxon and Chevron are having their credit ratings threatened. Norway’s $1.3 Trillion Dollar sovereign wealth fund has just completely pulled out of the Oil sector.

People and Pensions

Music, and the industry surrounding it, is a progressive force for good – MDE believe every organisation and company within the music industry can and should align their pensions with their values and help their employees to stop unknowingly financing the Climate Crisis.

68% of UK savers want their investments to consider people and planet alongside profit. There’s so much power in moving money to a more sustainable pension fund – it can have 27 times more impact on your carbon footprint than giving up flying and becoming a vegan combined*.

Changes are afoot in many other sectors – Sadiq Khan committed to divest London’s pension funds and in 2017 divested the GLA’s pension funds from fossil fuels and has worked with the London boroughs councils to do the same. In 2016 Waltham Forest’s local government pension scheme was the first to commit to full divestment.

In the Arts sector – Equity members brought a successful motion, making the default pension for members an Aviva fund that is fully divested of fossil fuel investments.

The UK’s largest pension fund, NEST (the National Employment Savings Trust) – has committed to divesting from fossil fuels – beginning with £5.5 billion moving to ‘climate aware’ investments.

* Nordea Group sustainable finance research; calculation based on approximately £800 per year pension contributions over a 42-year career, yielding 9.3% annually and compounded.

Actions for Organisations

Many organisations in the music industry may auto enrol staff via NEST, or fossil fuel free funds with Aviva or Royal London, which is great. For those that don’t and haven’t approached their pension provider, there are resources out there to make the change included in the lists below. Alternatively, you can ask your financial advisor to find you a fossil fuel free pension fund, making sure to encourage them to ask as many funds as possible. This will help catalyse change at the pension companies. Empower your employees – tell them where their pension is invested, engage in a dialogue with them about where it could go in the long term, and act on it.

If you are making the change already or thinking of changing to fossil free funds let MDE know and we’ll champion you as part of the vanguard of forward-thinking, progressive climate savvy companies and let the rest of the industry know.

PLEASE NOTE: you should seek independent financial advice before changing your pension investments.

Resources for Organisations and Companies:

SME Pensions guide at

Make My Money Matter toolkit at MMMM_PartnerPledge_Toolkit_v5.pdf

Actions for Individuals

If you are part of a company pension and don’t know what it is invested in, ask your HR or boss for an update – it will make them think about how the company’s monies are invested. Make My Money Matter have a great template to use to get the ball rolling. Tell your friends and family – encourage them to make a small change with a massive impact. If you have a financial advisor, ask them to find you a fossil fuel free pension fund, encourage them to ask as many funds as possible – this will help catalyse change at the pension companies.

PLEASE NOTE: you should seek independent financial advice before changing your pension investments.

Resources for individuals:

Client Earth template letter at pension-schemes/

Share Action video at

Divest your pension: keep fossil fuels in the ground.