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Protesters accuse GM Pension Fund of funding the climate crisis (Fossil Free Greater Manchester)

news release

Unison members, pensioners and other campaigners are making a noise in Droylsden today outside a meeting of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF). They claim the Fund is persistently ignoring the calls of Fund members and Unison representatives to get rid of its climate-damaging investments in fossil fuels.

Brandishing a crocheted fire extinguisher, protesters ‘put out the flames’ caused by fossil fuel companies and reminded the Fund that local action is urgent. 

Gale Blackburn, a Unison rep to the Fund said:

“Unison has passed a motion to decarbonise our pensions but when this is raised, the Fund leaders repeatedly dismiss our position, throwing greenwash over the £1.6 billion the fund has invested in fossil fuel companies. Where’s the accountability?”

Unison member Sam O’Brien adds:

“Waiting for Shell to become green is like waiting for hell to freeze. Engaging with fossil fuel companies has failed. GMPF should follow the lead of the Church of England, the University of Manchester and many others and begin to divest immediately. As international discussions on climate-change at COP28 begin this week, divesting from fossil fuels is a powerful local action that we want GMPF to take for all our sakes.”

Campaigners point to data released last month showing that the GM fund has by far the highest level of investments in fossil fuel companies compared to other local government pension funds.

GMPF pensioner Joan Bennett said:

“Other local government pension funds like Lambeth, Cardiff and Islington have called for divestment so there is no reason why Greater Manchester should not do the same. GMPF has a net zero target of 2050. That’s far too late.

Greater Manchester councils and the GM Combined Authority all have net zero target of 2038 or earlier so the Fund is out of step with public authorities in the region. The GMPF managers need to stop shirking their responsibility and wake up to the climate emergency”.

ENDS

Contacts for further information:

Maggie Walker (FFGM campaign) Email: fossilfreegm@gmail.com

Notes for editors

The protest is planned for 8:30am – 10:00am, Guardsman Tony Downes House, Droylsden – contact us for photographs.

Fossil Free Greater Manchester (FFGM) is a coalition of organisations and individuals calling upon the GMPF 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 and fracking).
  • Develop a strategy to invest in local climate solutions in Greater Manchester. 

GMPF is the UK’s largest local authority pension fund with over 300,000 members, £29.3bn (March 2022) in assets and over £1.6bn directly invested in fossil fuel companies that engage in coal mining and oil and gas extraction.

Unison, the local government trade union, has had a policy to call on local government pension funds to divest from fossil fuel companies since 2017 https://www.unison.org.uk/news/press-release/2018/01/unison-launches-campaign-divest-pensions-carbon/ 

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