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News release: Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Council Leaders must call out the ‘Elephant in the Room’ (Fossil Free Greater Manchester)

news release

Update: The protest is planned for Friday 23 rd February 2024 at 8.30am outside the GMCA offices, at the Tootal Building, 56 Oxford Street. 
Then from 9am – 10.30 outside the Manchester Town Hall Extension. St Peter’s Square.

Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Council Leaders must call out the ‘Elephant in the Room’ Fossil Fuel Pension Protest at the GMCA meeting in Manchester  

Campaigners will be following an elephant on Friday morning 23rd February 2024 outside a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) in Manchester. They are calling for the Mayor and GM Council Leaders to press Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) to stop investing in fossil fuels.

Including Trade Unionists, and led by the Fossil Free Greater Manchester campaign group, the theme of the protest is: Fossil-fueled Pensions are “The Elephant in the Room”. The silence about the scale of the GMPF’s investments in fossil fuels must end.

Pension funds should safeguard the future of their pension holders. Instead they are recklessly funding the industries already making life more precarious through floods, storms and extreme heat.  “We have just experienced 12 months of global temperatures that are 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial average. Climate change is happening now and it will get rapidly worse unless we act immediately.” says Sam O’Brian, a Rochdale Unison representative.

As Allan Challenger, recipient of a GMPF pension, makes clear: “It is now several years since Greater Manchester Councils made climate emergency declarations. Yet GMPF has utterly failed to set out a specific strategy to divest from fossil fuels and to invest instead in the energy transition we need for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. GMPF invests more in fossil fuels than any local government pension scheme in the country. Greater Manchester deserves far better than this”.  

“I’m ashamed that my pension and Greater Manchester politicians are giving credence to fossil fuel companies’ claims that they are transitioning away from fossil fuels, even as they expand production.” says Joan Bennett, another recipient of a GMPF pension.

Like GMPF a Dutch Pension Fund, PFZW, also sought to encourage fossil fuel companies to plan for a green transition.  But after seeing that Shell, BP and Total showed no signs of meeting their targets, PFZW dropped their investments.

In contrast GMPF has taken no action despite seeing not only the failure of these companies to act but actually their continuing to explore for new sources of oil and gas against the explicit guidance of the International Energy Agency.


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Notes for editors

The protest is planned for Friday 23rd February 2024, 8:30am – 10:30am, Tootal Building, 56 Oxford Street – 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 £1.7bn engaged in coal, oil and gas extraction. It has the largest holdings in fossil fuels, by both value and percent, of any local government pension scheme.

The members of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority are the leaders of the ten councils in Greater Manchester with the GM Mayor and Deputy Mayor. 

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

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