We’ve heard that yet again officers of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) have repeated the claim that ‘GMPF achieved over £400 million more in returns than if it had divested its’ shares in oil, gas and coal mining companies.’
We wrote to the fund over a year ago to ask for details of how they reached the £400m figure and were told that it’s based on their returns from energy, mining and utility companies for the period April 2016 to March 2019.
So there are two reasons why this claim is misleading:-
- The £400m includes GMPF’s investments in the renewable energy sector as well as all types of mining, not just coal.
- GMPF has been very selective in the time period that they used for their calculations. One year later the results would look very different.
Looking for example at BP, one of GMPF’s biggest holdings, [other oil stocks performed similarly], it’s clear that between April 2016 and March 2019, BP’s shares started at a relatively low level and continued to an unusually high level. However, there was a sustained fall in BP’s share price even prior to Covid, and a huge drop at the start of the pandemic.
So it’s no surprise that GMPF’s 2020 Annual Report notes that GMPF’s investment performance was ranked 50th among Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) in 2019-20. It made a loss on its investment of 6.6% compared with the average loss of 4.8%.
Fossil fuel shares are typically much more volatile than investments as a whole, but finance industry comparisons between stock market indices, with and without fossil fuels, reveal that over the longer term, the performance of fossil-free indices is equal to or better than those that include fossil fuels.
You can read more about GMPF’s dubious claims about it investment performance in our updated GMPF fact-check briefing.