“Invest in our futures GMPF” say young protestors (Rising Up! Manchester Families)
Young protestors from Rising Up! Manchester Families are the latest group to head to Droylsden to call on Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) to divest £2billion from fossil fuels within two years and to invest in local climate solutions instead. On July 19 Fossil Free Greater Manchester held a protest outside the Droylsden offices, joined by Extinction Rebellion protestors, who glued themselves to the front of the building and sprayed “Stop funding eco genocide”. The trial of four protestors who glued themselves to the doors takes place on 8 November.
The children hope to get the fund to listen to their message, delivered via poetry and cards made by children The youngsters will be dressed from head to toe in green and blue as Ethel and the Earthlings, and are accompanied by the Greenpeace polar bear, Sami. On the journey to Droylsden will be engaging with passengers and passers-by in a game.
“It is so hard explaining to my five-year-old Maia that not only is not everyone fighting for our future but that many are still making money from its destruction.” said Rose Arnold, Rising Up! Manchester Families organiser and mother. “Even as councils across the country are declaring climate emergencies many are still invested heavily in industries which cause climate breakdown. In Manchester a big one is the airport but also the public sector pension fund, GMPF, has £2billion supporting companies such as Shell, who have known for 30 years the devastation they are causing.”
“Maia thought perhaps they didn’t have children, or maybe they didn’t know what was happening She wanted us to let them know. Dressing up as Ethel and the Earthlings is a playful way for younger children to engage in what are big and scary questions without being terrified. They are asking GMPF to think of their futures”
“The fund has questioned the value of divestment. However, Shell’s CEO and also the Head of OPEC, have both recently cited the divestment movement as a major threat to their industries showing that it is working. In 2016 the London Borough of Waltham Forest became the first council in the UK to fully divest from fossil fuels, voting to sell its entire £24 million stake in oil, gas and coal. e London Borough of Southwark’s fund followed suit – committing to fully divest their £1.2 billion fund. We need to do the same.
A&E consultant and mother Kath Morgan joining the protest with her children said: “As a healthcare professional I have a duty of care to current and future generations. Climate is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century. It is happening now across the world and is a huge threat to us here in Manchester too. It isn’t okay for the pension fund for the public sector, which is supposed to exist for the public good, to invest in fossil fuels.”
The action is part of the weekend of Northern Rebellion, organised by Extinction Rebellion, which has closed down part of Manchester city centre calling for immediate action on climate.
Notes for editors
Monday 2 September
11:15 photo and filming opportunity at St Peter’s Square
11:45 photo opportunity, interviews and opportunity to film at Guardsman Tony Downe House, 5 Manchester Road, Droylsden, M43 6SF
Or join us on the tram to play, What’s My Future with people on the way.
Part of Extinction Rebellion, we make protest easier for parents and meaningful and positive for children
- Statement released by the Greater Manchester Pension Fund before the July protest.
A GMPF spokesperson said: “The Greater Manchester Pension Fund committed 2 years ago to being 100% carbon neutral by 2050 if not sooner, which is a higher standard than Government has set itself.
We are the biggest local government investor in renewables and energy efficiency with £0.5 billion invested and leading investment opportunities for other funds. The pension fund’s holdings are a matter of public record and details are transparently published on our website along with our responsible investor policy .
The Greater Manchester Pension Fund is working hard to become carbon neutral and it has been recognised by the Environment Audit Committee as being one of the most engaged in the country in doing so. This needs to be balanced against the Fund being top performing over 30 years and creating an additional £3.7 billion of value above that of the average LGPS pension fund.
The Fund has a fiduciary duty to demonstrate that its investment decisions do not threaten its financial performance, and the fact of the matter is over the last 3 years, we achieved over £400 million more in returns than if we had divested from equities in such companies such as BP or Centrica, formerly known as British Gas.
Accordingly, with such clear evidence that disinvestment rushed at this stage would cause material financial detriment to the fund, we need to find a ‘Just Transition’, which ensures we do not transfer the burden of this cost to the employers and taxpayers of Greater Manchester alike, which would result in significant Council tax hikes, and importantly avoids job loses for residents across the conurbation who are employed in these industries.
As part of a recent review of investment strategy we are currently implementing £2.5 billion of the fund assets being divested to a low carbon approach targeting a significant reduction in carbon footprint and intensity.
In a meeting with Fossil Free GM last week it was recognised we share same goal of a zero-carbon economy as quickly as possible although Fossil Free GM would like us to go faster. We are working on this but we are also committed to a Just Transition ensuring interests of workers & communities are properly taken into account.”
IN RESPONSE TO THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY, WE ARE CALLING UPON THE GREATER MANCHESTER PENSION FUND TO…
- Make the fund fossil free within the next 2 years.
- Immediately move all investments out of the most polluting fossil fuels (coal, tar sands & fracking).
- Develop a strategy to invest in local climate solutions in Greater Manchester.
We are part of a rapidly growing global alliance campaigning for divestment. We’re working with trade unions, scheme members and others to persuade the Greater Manchester Pension Fund to ditch its risky and polluting investments in fossil fuel companies.
Moorland fires, toxic air, extreme weather… the GMPF is funding climate chaos.
- Around £2,000,000,000 (£2 billion) is currently invested in polluting fossil fuel companies,
such as Shell & BP*.
- These companies are risky investments for our planet and our pockets.
- Local governments have a responsibility to work for the public good.