7th May 2017

Greater Manchester’s local authority pension fund has nearly trebled its investments in dirty, risky and increasingly redundant coal stocks.

Its latest accounts show the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) increased its stakes in mining companies Anglo American and Glencore by 288% and 276% between March 2015 and March 2016. These investments expose Greater Manchester’s local authority pension fund holders to potentially devastating losses as the world adopts cleaner energy sources.

Some of the world’s largest investment funds have divested from coal as they recognise the risks to their members pensions from ‘stranded assets’ as countries move to low carbon economies.

In 2015, the Governor of The Bank of England warned investors of the huge financial losses which could occur when more than 80% of known reserves of coal, oil and gas is left in the ground to combat climate change.

Months later, the UK Government committed to a total phase out of coal power and the world’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy, filed for bankruptcy. And just last week the UK had its first coal free day since the industrial revolution.

Taking these trends into account, local authority pension funds across the UK are disinvesting from fossil fuels to avoid being stung by further devaluations. 12 local authorities have passed divestment motions in the UK so far, including Sheffield, Waltham Forest, Bristol and Haringey.

“GMPF risks leaving its pension holders high and dry with its fossil fuel investments,” said Fossil Free Greater Manchester spokesperson Chris Smith. “Trebling investments in climate-busting coal while governments commit to its phase out is totally irresponsible.”

Fossil Free Greater Manchester calls on the GM Pension Fund to:
– Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies
– Divest from companies involved in the exploitation of coal and unconventional oil or gas within two years and all fossil fuel companies within 5 years
– Work with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to develop and fund a low-carbon investment programme for Greater Manchester

The people of Greater Manchester are waking up to GMPF’s lack of action on stranded assets. Over 4,000 have now signed a petition demanding it moves its money away from fossil fuels. People concerned about GMPF’s investments in fossil fuels can sign the petition here: http://bit.ly/divestgmpf

Fossil Free Greater Manchester has also secured pledges from the Greater Manchester Mayoral candidates to support this divestment campaign as part of their climate change action plans for the region.

Smith added: “It’s vital that the newly-elected Mayor takes urgent action to protect pension savings and the climate.”

Related: Almost $1bn wiped off the value of UK pensions’ coal investments