19th October 2018

Today, 19 October, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund will hold its Annual General Meeting.  We’ll be outside from 12.30 til the meeting starts.

We call on those attending to ask the Fund two things:

  1. WHEN will  “100% of its assets to be compatible with the net zero emissions ambition in line with the Paris Agreement”? When will you be clean?
    At present the Fund has the largest holdings of all UK local government pension funds in the fossil fuel industry – that’s getting on for £2Bn. They are a big fund but they also have the hightest proportion of investments in this sector too.
  2. Will you make a start by dumping the £150,000 investment in the oil services company Schlumberger? This is the firm contracted by Cuadrilla to frack for gas at Preston New Road in Lancashire.

Here is the link to the briefing we’ve prepared for employers, who will share the risk if these investments become stranded, as the Bank of England governor, among others, has warned.

And here is the speech given by FFGM member Maggie Walker at the well attended public meeting on the climate emergency, divestment and the fight against fracking, last Tuesday.

Speech used at Climate Change Public Meeting  – Oct 2018

GMPF has been found to be the dirtiest of the UK’s local govt pension funds.  It has the highest proportion and highest amount of fossil fuel investments. It is also the most involved (in England) in companies that support fracking internationally. Here in GM we’ve the worst ….

It is even involved in fracking at Preston New Road – holding shares in the oil industry drilling company Schlumberger that Cuadrilla have employed to do the work there.

GMPF’s high levels of investment in fossil fuels run counter to sustainability and anti-fracking policies of local councils.  GMPF should be accountable. It is run by Tameside Council on behalf of the GM authorities.  Tameside Council should listen to these views.

The dreadful fires on Saddleworth Moor and Winter Hill gave a preview of how changing weather patterns will affect us.  Yet GMPF invests in these climate destroyers.

IPCC report calls for a rapid transition from fossil fuels. Shell’s CEO then reassures his investors that they “believe in gas”. Companies like Shell and BP (between them over 6% of GMPF’s Equity investments in this year’s annual report) plan to use oil and gas reserves that are incompatible with Paris Agreement targets. This makes them financially risky as well as morally repugnant. These companies are massively over-valued, it is a “carbon bubble”. When investors realise that the companies are over-valued their stocks will fall and our pensions are at risk. We are calling on GMPF to get out now and not gamble our pensions on risky fossil fuels.

It isn’t only us that say this. Bank of England governor, Mark Carney spoke in 2015 about fossil fuel stocks being over-valued. Over 100 MPs have called for the UK Parliament Pension to get out of fossil fuels. UNISON the local government Trade Union has called for divestment (but not Unite).

5000 local residents signed a petition that we handed in to GMPF last October.

8 GM MPs have signed our pledge.

800 institutions and funds worth $6trn are committed to take their money out of fossil fuels – including New York City and Merseyside, South Yorkshire and some London Pension Funds.

Fossil fuel companies are dirty because they encourage burning of fossil fuels but also because they use dirty tricks to lobby against climate science and overcome valid opposition. Companies like Exxon, Shell and BP have been implicated in lobbying and casting doubt on climate change science.  Look for InsideClimateNews for this story.

These companies cause pollution and human rights abuses in their search for oil and gas internationally. They’ve destroyed local livelihoods and even the lives of those opposed to them in South America. People in Canada, Africa and around the world have similar stories. It is not morally acceptable to put our money into these companies. GMPF should be shunning these companies for their appalling and unacceptable behaviour internationally.

Yet, GMPF invests almost £500 per GM person in coal, gas and oil.  This money could be used to benefit our local area and help prepare for a low carbon economy.  Renewable energy and local initiatives are crying out for investment. The pension fund could be a key partner in efforts to put GM in the lead in terms of a sustainable economy.

Join us in our campaign.

We call for the pension fund to immediately freeze any new investments in coal, oil or gas companies and to make a plan to divest from all fossil fuel holdings over the next 5 years – starting with the most polluting such as coal and tar sands internationally.

We call for immediately getting out of the fracking company Schlumberger – involved at Preston New Road.

We have got somewhere – After a 5000 sig petition handed in last year GMPF finally said that they are committed to partial divestment and a “long-term goal” for 100% of investments to be compatible with the Paris agreement by 2050.  But we say – start now – in the “long-term” is too late.

GMPF say that full divestment is a risky option. Top financial advisors have shown that fossil-free investments do as well as those that include fossil fuels.  Risk is no excuse.

GMPF say that they will talk with companies to get change – not divest and lose influence.  But we find that they don’t do this. And anyway – if we think they’ve got a duff business model – surely we don’t invest!

To summarise:

GMPF is heavily involved in dirty fossil fuels. This needs to change.

For moral reasons – our pension fund should only invest in companies that are truly working to manage climate change for the sake of the generations to come.

AND we call for it for financial reasons because fossil fuel companies over value their reserves and investing in them puts our pensions at risk. Our pensions should be invested in creating a sustainable economy.

We will be making this call again on Friday lunch-time at the Fund’s AGM in Droylsden – join us.

Join our supporters list, or join our group meetings on the 2nd and 4th Mondays at 6.30 pm at the Green Fish Resource Centre on Oldham St in the city centre.

If you are part of GMPF, make sure that your employer knows of your opposition to these investments.

Everyone can let local MPs and Councillors know of their concerns.

Sign up at the table at the back, follow us on twitter and make use of the information on our website – www.fossilfreegm.org.uk

We must do what we can locally to stop the international disaster that is climate change. Getting our local pension fund  (GMPF) out of fossil fuels will be one important step on this journey.