10th August 2021

This newsletter has been sent to our supporters and we are also making it more widely available here at this critical point in the global climate crisis – on which GMPF has still to act with the seriousness and resolve that we all need whether fund members, elected representatives or citizens both locally and globally.

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Dear FFGM Supporters

In this newsletter

Councillors vote for Strathclyde Pension Fund to assess and divest

GMPF buys more fossil fuel shares

New mythbuster

Consultation on GMPF’s investment strategy

Still time to sign UNISON North West Climate Emergency Group divestment petition

International Energy Agency Says No New Fossil Fuel Development

What did your council say about divestment?

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Who says we can’t divest?

Strathclyde Pension Fund (SPF) committee have voted to assess the climate credentials of the companies they invest in and to divest from companies which ‘don’t take their responsibility on carbon or climate seriously’. This decision comes after years of campaigning for divestment in Scotland.

SPF is the second largest local government pension fund in the UK (the largest is GMPF) and currently has £508 million invested in coal, oil and gas. So what they do obviously has huge implications for all local government pension schemes.

There is still a long way to go to transform this commitment into a timetable of action that will lead to meaningful divestment but it is a big step in the right direction. And if Strathclyde can commit to assess and divest why can’t GMPF? The strategy of engagement with the polluters has failed. GMPF need to get serious about divestment and quickly.

More info here:

https://www.gcop.scot/spf-vote-statement/

and here:

https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/local-government-pension-fund-drop-154330554.html

GMPF buys more fossil fuel shares

While other funds are making plans to divest or have already divested GMPF are going in the other direction.

Fossil Free Greater Manchester (FFGM) analysed GMPF’s holdings at 31 March, 2020 versus 31 March 2019 and concluded that holdings in the oil and gas giants Shell and BP, went up by 27.3% and 18.6%, respectively and Glencore, a commodity trading and mining company whose operations include coal, increased by 42.3%. This contrasts with a claim made by the Fund’s chair, Tameside leader, councillor Brenda Warrington, in the same 2020 Annual Report that GMPF had taken steps to divest from fossil fuel companies.

http://fossilfreegm.org.uk/index.php/blog/

http://fossilfreegm.org.uk/index.php/2021/05/10/fossil-fuel-holdings-increase-gm-pension-fund/

Facts vs fake fossil news

FFGM have created an up to date fact checker answering some of the myths used by GMPF to justify its fossil fuel investments:

Fossil-Free-GM-fact-check-briefing-July-2021

Consultation on GMPF’s investment strategy

Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) have begun consultation on their investment strategy. The section that deals with the fund’s commitment to climate change is currently a bit vague. We are encouraging our supporters to contribute to the consultation by writing to the fund and asking them to adopt the following text in place of the strategy’s paragraphs 9.5 and 9.6:

9.5. The climate emergency is an urgent, financially material social, economic and environmental risk. The Panel recognises that climate-related risks and opportunities are already financially material to the performance of the investment portfolio and will become even more so over the expected lifetime of GMPF. The International Energy Agency 2021 report states: “There can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year if the world is to meet net zero emissions by 2050.” Continued investment in assets that perpetuate and exacerbate the climate breakdown is no longer morally justifiable. Such assets are also financially insecure and will become increasingly so as governments transition to zero carbon technologies and energy sources. Consequently, to protect the financial interests of Fund members and the capacity of the planet to support current and future generations, the Fund will transfer its holdings away from all assets that involve the extraction of fossil fuels. The Fund will decarbonise its portfolio by at least 15% per annum and become zero carbon by 2038 at the very latest, in line with the Greater Manchester decarbonisation pathway.

9.6. The Fund’s decarbonisation pathway will be regularly evaluated in line with the latest science and climate risk assessment. GMPF will continue to measure and report its carbon footprint and will seek to utilise the latest methodologies to ensure accuracy and relevance. GMPF reports annually in line with the recommendations of the Taskforce for Climate Related Financial Disclosures.

The consultation, which ended on 9th July is here: https://www.gmpf.org.uk/members/News/Investment-Strategy-Statement-Consultation

You can still write to the Assistant Director, Investment, GMPF and your council’s representative about it.

UNISON Divest petition

The UNISON North West Climate Emergency Group petition is still going. UNISON is the largest union in local government and it is really great that union members have taken this initiative for a green and sustainable future for our pension fund. Please add your signature if you haven’t already and share with your friends.

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/protect-our-planet-protect-your-pension

No more fossil investment says IEA

If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.” Fatih Birol IEA Executive Director

The International Energy Agency has said that there can be no more development or exploitation of new oil and gas fields beyond 2021 and no new coal fired power stations can be built if the world is to meet net zero emissions by 2050. This has significant implications for GMPF’s fossil fuel investments.

For companies like Glencore whose main business is mining coal it means that they will need to rapidly stop this area of their business and many of their current investments in coal mines will become worthless if governments around the world take the IEA’s advice as they should. Glencore have no plans to end coal mining so it is completely irresponsible for GMPF to ontinue to invest in their business.

For BP and Shell the IEA’s findings go completely against their business plan which is to carry on investing in the development of new and existing gas and oil fields. How can GMPF justify holding investments in these companies? Is it right to back companies whose published plans will make runaway climate change inevitable? What happens to our pension fund if governments act to limit climate change making these investments worthless? We got a small taste of that during the pandemic and how rapidly value can be wiped out. It will be much worse in the future unless GMPF come up with a serious plan for divestment now.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/18/no-new-investment-in-fossil-fuels-demands-top-energy-economist

Feedback on your council’s position on divestment

In our last newsletter we asked you to write to your environment and climate lead councillor to find out their position on divestment and GMPF. Thank you to everyone who did. We are still collating the responses. If your climate lead responded to your email please let us know. If you are still waiting for a response you might need to contact them again.

Thank you for your continued support at this crucial time for the campaign.

follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/FossilFreeGM

There’s a facebook page.

Email: fossilfreeGM@gmail.com

Our mailing address is:

Fossil Free Greater Manchester, c/o Manchester Friends of the Earth

Green Fish Resource Centre

46-50 Oldham Street

Manchester, Man M4 1LE

United Kingdom