A group of high-profile actors and performers have voiced support for a campaign by members of the British actors’ union. It seeks to encourage its pension provider to move their money away from fossil fuels which harm the planet and financial returns.
Academy Award-winning actor Mark Rylance and actresses Zoë Wanamaker and Maxine Peake are among several television and stage stars endorsing a campaign by Equity union members asking their pension provider Aviva to create a low-carbon fund for their combined assets worth £110m. Wanamaker called it a ‘no-brainer’.
Supported by responsible investment charity ShareAction, the #PensionPower campaign, which launches on 23 October, seeks to raise awareness of how our pensions are invested and the ethical options that are currently available to actors in the Equity union. In the long term, the campaign aims to encourage the default pension fund, which is the automatic fund which actors pay into, to divert its investments away from fossil fuel and into clean energy.
A grassroots effort, the campaign was set up by performers, writers and actors, including Will Attenborough, Leila Mimmack, Jack Monaghan, Steffan Donnelly and Lara Sawalha. The group have been passing motions at local Equity union branches to build support for the campaign democratically.
While this campaign is not officially endorsed by Equity until it is voted in by the Council, the union has been highly supportive of the activism and campaigning taking place, ShareAction understands.
In addition to the ‘ethical’ motives for not investing in fossil fuels, there are financial risks which could affect what pension savers receive when they retire. Only this year, the UK government announced that they will ban all sales of diesel cars by 2040, with similar commitments made in India, Norway and France. As economies move away from oil and gas, companies which extract fossil fuels risk being left behind with millions invested in infrastructure and projects which are no longer viable.
Mark Rylance, esteemed for his career on stage and screen, says: “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.”
Mike Bartlett, writer of BBC’s Doctor Foster, says: “Climate change will affect everyone on the planet, not to mention generations to come. Since President Trump has turned his back on the Paris Agreement, it makes it even more vital that every organisation does all they can to limit climate change. So I fully support this campaign to go low-carbon.”
Actor David Harewood says: “I totally support these Equity members in their campaign to divert their pension fund away from fossil fuels and into cleaner energy solutions. We must all in our own little way do what we can to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels – either by personal choice or, as these members are doing with this campaign, by using our collective strength and moving our financial investments away from high carbon industries. We cannot continue to ignore the effects of climate change on our planet; to do so would be highly ignorant and potentially catastrophic.”
Also backing the campaign are Simon McBurney OBE, comedienne Francesca Martinez, playwright Duncan Macmillan, and other stage and screen figures including Jasper Britton, Margot Leicester, and Game of Thrones actress Alexandra Dowling. Dowling tweeted that she was ‘delighted’ the campaign had been set up, asking Equity members to ‘get on board’.