Climate campaigners urge Trafford Council to call on GM Pension Fund to stop funding fossil fuels

13th October 2019
news
release

Fossil Free Greater Manchester news release

Climate campaigners are urging Trafford councillors to support  a motion calling on the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) to stop funding fossil fuel companies at the Trafford Council meeting on Wednesday 9th October. [1] 

The GM Pension Fund is the largest local government pension fund in the UK. [2] Trafford Council has assets within the GMPF valued at £732 million (at 31/3/19). The Pension Fund states that “it generally holds about 5% in traditional fossil fuel companies such as BP, Shell and Centrica”.

However, analysis by the Fossil Free Greater Manchester campaign indicates that GMPF actually has 7.5% of its funds (over £1.8 billion) invested in fossil fuels. [3] 

This would mean that Trafford Council has over £50 million invested in coal, oil and gas companies.

Ali Abbas from Fossil Free Greater Manchester said:

“Last year, Trafford was the first council in Greater Manchester to declare a climate emergency.  But council staff will be shocked to hear that their pension savings are still being used to fund climate-wrecking fossil fuels.

“On Wednesday evening, Trafford councillors must take action to ensure that the GM Pension Fund stops investing in companies that are making the climate crisis worse.”

Scientists have been warning of the climate crisis for years. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that immediate action is required to limit global warming [4].

The UK Parliament, the Labour Party and nine Greater Manchester councils have declared a ‘climate emergency’ and the GM Combined Authority wants the region to be one of the greenest places in Europe. Young people are demanding urgent action and both the Governor of the Bank of England and the Pensions Minister have warned of the danger of continuing to invest in fossil fuels as we move towards renewable energy. Yet GMPF is still investing in companies that are driving climate change.

Ali Abbas added:

“It’s morally and financially irresponsible for the GM Pension Fund to gamble workers’ pensions on risky and polluting fossil fuel companies. Where it was once considered a leader, GMPF is now lagging behind other pension funds in its glacial response to the climate emergency. For GMPF to keep any credibility, it must immediately withdraw funding from companies involved in the coal industry – the most polluting and financially riskiest investments.”

A growing number of local authority pension funds have already begun to sell their investments in fossil fuels, including South Yorkshire, Lambeth and Haringey. Globally over 1,000 institutions, with combined assets of over US$11 trillion, have made divestment commitments. [5]

Photo opportunity: Local residents, climate change campaigners and Trafford Green Party members will be lobbying Trafford Councillors before the Council Meeting. Assemble from 6pm, Wednesday 9th October outside Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Rd, Stretford, M32 0TH

ENDS

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

[1] 10e.  Motion Submitted by the Green Party Group – Investing in Green Solutions Instead of Fossil Fuels.

[2] The Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) (www.gmpf.org.uk) is the UK’s biggest local authority pension fund with over 370,000 members and over £22 billion in assets.

[3] See http://fossilfreegm.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Fossil-Free-GM-briefing-for-Trafford-councillors-October-2019.pdf 

[4] The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC http://www.ipcc.ch) is the leading world body on climate change. Its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/ published on 7th October states that global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) need to fall by 45% by 2030 or we risk catastrophic change.  It has been estimated that over 80% of fossil fuels must be kept in the ground to limit global warming. 

[5] See https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/commitments/ 

[6] [Fossil Free Greater Manchester (fossilfreegm.org.uk) is a grassroots coalition of organisations and individuals calling upon the GMPF to:

  1. Make the fund fossil free within the next 2 years. 
  2. Immediately move all investments out of the most polluting fossil  fuels (coal, tar sands & fracking). 
  3. Develop a strategy to invest in local climate solutions in Greater Manchester.