19th July 2019

Today (Friday 19th July) a noisy protest [1] outside the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) offices called for

Pension Fund members protest at GMPF

Pension Fund members protest at GMPF

the Pension Fund to join the growing global movement to respond to the climate emergency by divesting from climate-wrecking fossil fuels within 2 years

The GM Pension Fund is the largest local government pension fund in the UK. [2] According to a 2018 report, over 10% of the fund – up to £2 billion – is invested in oil, gas and mining companies, making it the dirtiest pension fund in the country. [3]

“Today, the GM Pension Fund excluded its members from what was supposed to have been their Annual General Meeting. The meeting was re-badged as an ’employers update’ only recently in what appears to be a crude attempt to evade transparency and accountability” said Fossil Free Greater Manchester member Mark Burton [4].

Scientists have been warning of the climate crisis for years.  The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that immediate action is required to limit global warming [5].

“The carbon budgets we developed for Greater Manchester are intended to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature objectives. To keep within this limit 80% of exploitable coal, oil and gas reserves have to remain under the ground. We need to tackle both the demand for fossil fuels and the supply and divesting is an effective way to do this.”  Dr John Broderick, Tyndall Centre on Climate Change, University of Manchester.

The UK Parliament, the Labour Party and five Greater Manchester councils have declared a ‘climate emergency’ and the GM Combined Authority wants the region to be one of the greenest places in Europe. Young people are demanding urgent action and both the Governor of the Bank of England and the Pensions Minister have warned of the danger of continuing to invest in fossil fuels as we move towards renewable energy.    Yet still GMPF invests in companies that are driving climate change.

Mark Burton added “Manchester City Council have declared a ‘climate emergency’ aiming to become ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030 – but the GM Pension Fund is failing to act, putting pensioners’ money at risk and adding to the climate crisis. Where it was once considered a leader, GMPF is now lagging behind other pension funds in its glacial response to the climate emergency”.
A growing number of local authority pension funds have already begun to sell their investments in fossil fuels, including  South Yorkshire, Lambeth and Haringey. Globally over 1,000 institutions have done so, with commitments to divest over US$9 trillion. [6]

ENDS

CONTACTS FOR COMMENT

Pete Abel, Mobile: 07951 642858. Email: pete@manchesterfoe.org.uk

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

[1] Twelve different groups, including Fossil Free Greater Manchester, protested outside the Pension Fund HQ today.  One group carried out two acts of non-violent direct protest, locking on to the entrance and spray painting the building.  Campaigning groups have autonomy to conduct actions and we respect that. While the spray painting shows the level of anger and frustration with inaction and complicity with climate destruction and ecocide, it isn’t our approach.  It has been suggested that this disrespected the memory of Tony Downes.  We know that this was not in any way the intention of those protesters.

[2] The Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) (www.gmpf.org.uk) is the UK’s biggest local authority pension fund with over 370,000 members and over £22 billion in assets.

[3] See https://gofossilfree.org/uk/fuellingthefire/

[4] Fossil Free Greater Manchester (fossilfreegm.org.uk) is a coalition of organisations and individuals calling upon the GMPF to:

  1. Make the fund fossil free within the next 2 years.

  2. Immediately move all investments out of the most polluting fossil  fuels (coal, tar sands & fracking).

  3. Develop a strategy to invest in local climate solutions in Greater Manchester.

[5] The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC http://www.ipcc.ch) is the leading world body on climate change. Its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/ published on 7th October states that global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) need to fall by 45% by 2030 or we risk catastrophic change.  It has been estimated that over 80% of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground to limit global warming.

[6] See https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/commitments/