Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Mhairi Black has become the latest Scottish MP to join a growing body of UK political leaders adding their support to the global movement for fossil fuel divestment.
Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South has joined over 160 cross-party politicians to sign the Divest Parliament pledge, calling for the MPs Pension Fund to move its £733 million of assets away from fossil fuels owing to concerns about climate change.
Mhairi Black MP said: Scotland is leading the way in formalizing a low carbon economy. We have already seen the Scottish Government reach ambitious climate change goals and renewable energy targets, it is important that we continue down this progressive path as climate change is one of the biggest threats to the planet as we know it.
Black’s pledge comes as constituents across the UK are urging their local MPs to show they care about climate change by calling on their pension fund to align its investments with the UK’s climate change commitments.
According to Colum Scriven, local Renfrewshire resident and director of fair trade charity, Rainbow Turtle:
“I applaud Mhairi Black’s stand on calling for her pension to be moved away from fossil fuel investments. As a supporter of fair trade in Renfrewshire, I also believe in preserving the future of our planet’s environment by moving away from fossil fuels to more sustainable methods of energy production.”
The last Annual Report for UK Parliament MPs Pension Fund revealed 5 out of the top 20 investments were in fossil fuel companies such as BP, Shell and Total. The investments are a stark contrast to the UK government’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to keep global warming well below 2oC.
Campaigners and climate scientists argue that keeping this commitment would mean leaving most known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. If fossil fuel companies cannot use their reserves, they become stranded assets, so there is also major financial risk for continued investment in fossil fuel companies, considering international efforts to tackle climate change.
The Scottish Government is demonstrating its commitment to tackling climate change with its recent ban on fracking in Scotland and its plans for a 90% reduction in emissions by 2050 in its landmark Climate Change Bill.
Supported by the ‘Divest Parliament’ campaign, UK citizens have been writing to and organising meetings with their MPs to raise awareness of the issue.
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Projects to mark the anniversary of the women in the UK first receiving the vote will receive £500,000 from the Centenary Fund. The Fund will support a variety of projects including those looking to improve women’s political representation and participation in public life.
As part of the Centenary Fund, up to £170,000 will be made available for local and community-based projects to apply to the Scottish Government’s Vote Centenary Small Grant Scheme.
Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, welcomed the announcement.
Commenting, she said:
“We have come a long way since some women secured the right to vote 100 hundred years ago, yet much still needs to be done to eradicate gender inequality and create a fairer, safer and more equal society.
“The Vote Centenary Small Grant Scheme is now open for applications. We are asking local communities to think of creative ways in which they can mark the centenary and I would encourage those that can to apply to the scheme as soon as possible.
The Representation of the People Act (1918) was a vital step forward for gender equality, and the centenary of the act is an incredibly important opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come, thanks to the extreme bravery and sacrifice of the women who fought – and in some cases died – for equality.
“We all know that there is lots more to do to tackle issues specific to women, we still have absurd inequalities that plague our society such as the gender pay gap, the rape clause, violence against women, maternity discrimination and the tampon tax.
“This funding from the Scottish Government will ensure we pay tribute to the women who fought so hard for the rights that women have today, as well as playing an important part in encouraging the next generation of women leaders.”
This week MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South Mhairi Black MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging her commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.
Saturday 27th January will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.
In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘The power of words’.
After signing the Book of Commitment, Mhairi Black MP commented:
“Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from across Renfrewshire and Scotland to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. I would encourage my constituents to show their support for such an important day.”
Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:
“The Holocaust did not start in the gas chambers but with hate filled words. Our mission is to educate young people from every background about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. We are very grateful to Mhairi Black MP for signing the Book of Commitment, signalling a continued commitment to remembering the victims of the Holocaust as well as challenging antisemitism, prejudice and bigotry in all its forms.”
Mhairi Black MP has thrown her support behind a nationwide food collection to help people who find themselves in need this Christmas.
From Thursday, November 30 to Saturday, December 2, more than 2,600 Tesco stores across the UK are taking part in the annual Food Collection, which encourages shoppers to donate long-life foods to help charity The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network to give food and support to people who might otherwise go hungry this Christmas.
Mhairi visited the Tesco store in Paisley to support the appeal, which last year collected 3.6 million meals for people in need. All the donations collected in Renfrewshire over the weekend will be donated to the Renfrewshire food bank.
More than 43 million meals have been donated to the food charities by generous Tesco customers since the scheme began, and the supermarket is hoping that shoppers will be just as generous this year.
Mhairi Black MP said
“At this time of year it’s good to think of others, and I would encourage shoppers to take part in this year’s Food Collection as it will make a real difference to people in need of food this Christmas.
“People should not have to rely on food banks however this is the reality that we live in. People will go hungry this winter and any support provided will help immensely. Well done to everyone involved in this year’s collection.”
Samantha Stapley, Operations Manager for The Trussell Trust said: “Trussell Trust foodbanks across the country will be doing all they can to provide emergency support so people don’t go hungry – but to make sure we’re prepared for what could be our busiest December yet, our network needs your support.
“During every Food Collection we’ve been humbled by the staggering generosity of Tesco customers, store colleagues and volunteers, and as we look to the start of the tenth collection, we would love to have your support once again. Your generosity will help stop hunger this Christmas.”
The latest figures from Renfrewshire Food Bank show that between 1st April and 30th September 2017, 4190 emergency food supplies were distributed in Renfrewshire.
This is a sharp rise from the 3038 food parcels that local people were given in during the same period in 2016. These figures show an increase of over 1000 families and people in Renfrewshire having to rely on the Food Bank. Of the 4190 supplies given out 1152 of these were for children. The Trussell Trust have indicated that the main reasons people are relying on Food Banks is down to continued issues with benefit payments, the roll out of Universal Credit, low wages and insecure jobs.
Local Renfrewshire MP Mhairi Black blames the continuing rise in Food Bank usage and poverty levels increasing on the UK government’s austerity measures.
Mhairi Black MP said –
“These latest figures from the Trussell Trust highlight how the Tory austerity agenda is nothing more than an attack on society’s most vulnerable people.
“Poverty levels are reaching record highs, food banks are running out of supplies and the UK government continue to make welfare cuts, austerity has failed.
“The UK Government are steamrolling ahead with the full roll out of Universal Credit and this is going to mean more people will be reliant on food banks all over Scotland”