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Mark Rylance calls on Equity to divert £120m pension pot into clean energy

Mark Rylance. Photo: Featureflash/Shutterstock
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Mark Rylance, Zoe Wanamaker and Maxine Peake are among theatre figures endorsing a campaign to withdraw actors’ pensions from fossil fuel investments.

Launching today (October 23), the campaign calls on Equity’s pension provider, Aviva, to create a "low carbon fund", diverting money away from fossil fuels and into clean energy.

The combined assets of Equity’s pension scheme come to almost £120 million. The campaign hopes in the long term to encourage the default pension fund, where actors’ money automatically goes, to invest in cleaner and more sustainable energy.

The campaign is first seeking to raise awareness of how pensions are invested and the ethical options that are available to Equity members.

It is also being backed by David Harewood, Simon McBurney, Mike Bartlett and Duncan Macmillan.

The campaign is not officially endorsed by Equity itself and the union stressed that should they wish to, members can choose what funds to invest in, which can be those that do not put money in fossil fuels or related industries.

Rylance, who has also campaigned against arts organisations accepting sponsorship from fossil fuel companies, said: “In the end, individuals will make the difference. We must individually stop supporting those who, by their actions, deny that humans and many other living beings are facing a mortal crisis of global warming.”

Wanamaker said the idea was a “no-brainer”, while Bartlett added that efforts to limit climate change had become “even more vital” following Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.

The effort began at a grassroots level, and was set up by a group of actors who have been passing motions at local Equity branches to build support. It is also being backed by responsible investment charity ShareAction.

The group is also warning of the financial risks that could affect the amount people receive when they retire if money continues to be invested in fossil fuels, following the UK government’s recent announcement that it will ban all sales of diesel cars by 2040, with a gradual move away from oil and gas.

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