Pension protestors claim success (Fossil Free Greater Manchester press release)

24th October 2018
news
release

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 horns 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 prompt 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, much larger 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.

Photographs from the event are available on Flickr (please credit Manchester Friends of the Earth)

ENDS

Notes to editors

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] 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.