This is despite a recent statement by the SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, suggesting that she is opposed to the growing global movement to pull investments worth some £2.3 trillion from coal, oil and gas companies.
More that 50 protests are being staged across the UK this weekend aimed at persuading more universities, councils and banks to withdraw money from climate polluters. In Scotland, the University of Glasgow and the United Reform Church are among those who have already decided to divest.
The House of Commons motion was lodged last September by the sole Green MP, Caroline Lucas. Some £500 million is invested into UK and global economies by Westminster’s pension fund, though fund mangers have so far refused to say how much of that is in fossil fuels.
The motion argues that because climate change poses a “serious risk” to financial returns, universities, churches and institutions are increasingly deciding to withdraw their funds from polluters.
It calls on MPs to show leadership and challenge how the parliamentary pension fund is spent. The fund should develop a new approach “with a view to divesting the parliamentary pension scheme from fossil fuels over an appropriate timescale,” the motion concludes.
The motion was co-sponsored by Roger Mullin MP, the SNP’s shadow treasury spokesman. It was also signed by the party’s climate justice spokeswoman, Dr Lisa Cameron; the equality spokeswoman, Angela Crawley; the Scotland Office spokeswoman, Margaret Ferrier; and the employment spokesman, Neil Gray.
Other SNP MPs who supported the motion were Chris Law, John McNally, Carol Monaghan, Paul Monaghan, Kirsten Oswald, Steven Paterson, and Christopher Stephens. It was also signed by 19 MPs from other political parties.
Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader and First Minister in the Scottish Parliament, was asked last month by the Conservative MSP, Murdo Fraser, whether she agreed with calls to divest from oil and gas companies. She replied: “I agree that anything that undermines the industry at this time is unhelpful”.
The Green MSP, Patrick Harvie MSP, pointed out that the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, had warned about the risks of investing in “unburnable” fossil fuels. “It's deeply disappointing that while some SNP MPs support the case for divestment at Westminster, the First Minister has yet to accept the risks here in Scotland,” he said.
"Greens have pushed this issue with the Scottish Government, securing an agreement that our biggest public sector pension fund will provide greater transparency. It's clear that we need Scottish ministers to be bolder, and acknowledge this dangerous bubble is going to burst.”
Ric Lander from Friends of the Earth Scotland welcomed the stand against “dirty” energy companies taken by SNP MPs. “Westminster and Holyrood are placing bets on risky fossil fuels, when they should be investing in responsible, sustainable industries,” he said.
“By moving pension funds out of fossil fuels, it makes a clear statement that you cannot plan for the future whilst destroying the climate. To limit temperature rises to under two degrees, we must keep 80 per cent of known fossil fuels in the ground.”
Lander accused fossil fuel firms of “environmental destruction and human rights abuses around the world”. He pointed out that the oil giant BP had received the largest ever environmental fine of £12.9 billion for “gross negligence” in relation to Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
No SNP MPs responded to requests to comment, and neither did the industry body, Oil and Gas UK. “Some SNP MPs signed this motion last year ahead of the Paris climate change summit,” said an SNP spokeswoman.
“And we are clear that, in addition to supporting moves to a low carbon economy we also need to ensure we support Scotland’s offshore industry – which is why we are calling on the UK government to use the forthcoming budget to reduce the overall tax burden on the sector.”