In this update:
19th October 2018
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.
Contact for comment
For more information, contact Maggie Walker 07947 195875 or Chris Smith (Fossil Free Greater Manchester) on 07502 037511.
Notes to editors
 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.
 FFGM (fossilfreegm.org.uk) is a coalition of organisations and individuals calling upon the GMPF to:
- a) Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies;
- 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;
- c) Work with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to develop and fund a low-carbon investment programme for Greater Manchester.
 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.
 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.
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”.