21st October 2018

 

In this update:Investing in our future? When will GM Pension Fund stop funding climate change?

1) Press release following our action outside Greater Manchester Pension Fund AGM on Friday 21 October.

2) The experience of one Fund member at the AGM

3) Photos of our action.


Fossil Free Greater Manchester press release 

19th October 2018

Immediate Release

Pension protestors claim success

A group of noisy pensioners and a large dinosaur greeted delegates who went to Droylsden in Greater Manchester  for the AGM of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. Passing drivers hooted their h

orns in support as protestors urged the fund to do more to tackle the causes of climate change whose effects were seen in Moorland wildfires such as that at local Saddleworth Moor this summer. Charred heather from the moor was used to signify the devastation of climate change.

“This is one of the largest and arguably one of the best UK pension funds, but it is not making a clear enough stand on fossil fuels. Experts tell us that global warming will only be reduced by pr

ompt action, and that means that we cannot burn more fossil fuels. Investing our pensions in fossil fuel companies is financially risky as well as morally wrong” said Maggie Walker one of the campaigners.

The fund’s annual report showed that they invested in Schlumberger Holdings, the company drilling for shale gas in Lancashire.  “It is good news that I was assured that this investment had since been sold. However large investments in Shell, BP and other fossil fuel giants  continue. These companies have a history of falsely disputing climate change science. They don’t frack in the UK, but they do internationally. We’ll keep campaigning until we get a clear commitment that the fund run by Tameside Council is addressing these issues by moving its investments out of fossil fuels.” She added.

ENDS

Contact for comment

For more information, contact Maggie Walker 07947 195875 or Chris Smith (Fossil Free Greater Manchester) on 07502 037511.

Notes to editors

[1] GMPF is the UK’s biggest local authority pension fund with over 370,000 members, over £22bn in assets and over £1.2bn directly invested in fossil fuel companies that engage in fracking, coal mining and oil and gas extraction.

[2] FFGM (fossilfreegm.org.uk) is a coalition of organisations and individuals calling upon the GMPF to:

  1. a)   Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies;
  2. b)   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;
  3. c)   Work with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to develop and fund a low-carbon investment programme for Greater Manchester.

[3] GMPF’s annual report shows that at 31 March this year, it had over £150,000 invested in Schlumberger Holdings which is contracted by Cuadrilla to carry out fracking operations at Preston New Road, Lancashire.

[4] The International Panel on Climate Change is the leading world body on climate change. Its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C published on 7th October states that global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) need to peak by 2010 and then  fall by 45% by 2030 or we risk catastrophic change. It had previously been estimated that at least 80% of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground for a a better than two-thirds chance of keeping global warming to below 2°C.

 

The experience of one Fund member at the AGM

I experienced a very different approach to people wanting to go into the meeting this year. I was told by Steven Budd corporate manager that I was not allowed into the AGM even though I am a member of the pension fund and had been allowed in last year. He said it was only for employers and asked me to leave the building. I refused and sat down in the waiting area. Sandra Stewart  (Executive Director Governance, Resources and Pensions) then came out and said we could come in so long as we didn’t disturb the meeting. We were not allowed to ask any questions.

You wouldn’t have known from the presentation that they had the largest fossil fuel investments of any of the LGPS funds. They made out that they were one of the greenest.

It seems that they had a meeting this morning and decided to move £2.3 billion into a fund with a “low carbon approach”.

I suspect this is just greenwash. It could mean just about anything. It certainly does not mean that they have divested from BP or Shell [just these 2  fossil fuel holding are worth £631M together]. They still plan to engage with these companies to try and persuade them to ditch their multi-billion dollar investments in oil and gas by having meetings with them.
GMPF plan to be completely carbon neutral by 2050. But there is still no clue as to when they will have ditched the first 50% of their fossil fuel investments 2040? 2045?.
The fact that they are announcing they are moving £2.3 billion into a low carbon fund shows that they are feeling the pressure. However if they are still pushing the engagement argument at this stage then I think they are in denial about the nature of the threat of stranded assets.
Sam O’Brien

Some of our supporters at the Fund HQ in Droylsden.

Some of our supporters at the Fund HQ in Droylsden.

 img_8176_31554077328_oimg_8172_31554076448_o

The clock is ticking but GMPF delays.

The clock is ticking but GMPF delays.

img_8195_30488948947_o