Campaigners hail UNISON decision as Greater Manchester Pension Fund faces more pressure to ditch fossil fuels
Fossil Free Greater Manchester (FFGM) today hailed UNISON’s decision that local authority pension funds should stop investing in fossil fuels. UNISON members took the decision at their annual conference in Brighton.
“UNISON has changed its position in the face of evidence that fossil fuel investments are bad for its members’ pensions and bad for the planet. We, along with nearly 5,000 people who’ve signed our petition and the new GM Mayor Andy Burnham all think GMPF should do the same” said FFGM member Ali Abbas. (2)
Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) holds over £1bn in investments in fossil fuel businesses, such as coal mining and oil and gas companies, more than any other local authority pension fund in the UK.  FFGM has been calling on GMPF to divest, that is to stop investing in fossil fuels and explore greener alternatives.
At the international climate talks in Paris in 2015, nearly 200 nations pledged themselves to limit global warming to well below 2°C over pre-industrial levels.  Over 80% of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground to honour that agreement and avoid catastrophic global climate change. 
A growing number of local authority pension funds and other organisations have already begun to divest including Reading, Hastings and Sheffield City Councils. Globally over 700 institutions with a total value of over $5 trillion have made divestment commitments.
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Notes to editors
1. FFGM (fossilfreegm.org.uk ) is a coalition of organisations and individuals working across Greater Manchester that is calling upon the GMPF to:
- Immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies;
- 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;
- Work with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to develop and fund a low-carbon investment programme for Greater Manchester.
2. In a Mayoral hustings on 28 April 2017, when asked “If elected, would you call on the Greater Manchester Pension Fund to divest the £1.3 billion it currently has invested in the fossil fuel industry?”, Andy Burnham replied “The answer to the question is yes, there should be a plan to divest”
3. GMPF is the UK’s biggest local authority pension scheme with nearly 350,000 members, over £13bn assets and over £1bn invested in fossil fuel companies that engage in coal mining and gas extraction.