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Droylsden based GM Pension Fund continues funding the climate crisis say protesters (Fossil Free Greater Manchester)

news release

Unison members, pensioners and other campaigners will be in Droylsden on the 8th March to lobby members of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) Panel. The protesters say that the Fund is persistently ignoring the calls of Fund members and Unison representatives to get rid of its £1.7 billion climate-damaging investments in fossil fuels. 

“We think that the panel members may be being misled” says campaigner Professor Pete Somerville. “At meetings like the one being held today panel members will be told that GMPF is measuring its carbon impact and addressing the climate emergency. However our own research suggests that much of this is a smokescreen. One example is that GMPF claims to be engaging with the fossil fuel companies regarding climate change but hasn’t been clear on what it wants the companies to do – which makes that engagement pointless. We’ve written to the Chair explaining our position and had no reply.”  

“Meanwhile other pension funds including the Church of England and the large Dutch fund PFZW have tried a meaningful engagement strategy and it has resulted in them deciding to sell all their fossil fuel shares. More locally the similar pension fund in West Yorkshire in February 2024 committed not to invest in new extraction of oil and gas and review the impact of its engagement with fossil fuel companies . GMPF is taking a big risk with its position.”

“I’m ashamed that my pension provider is giving credence to fossil fuel companies’ claims that they are transitioning away from fossil fuels, even as they expand production.” says Joan Bennett, who receives a GMPF pension. 

“Other local government pension funds like Lambeth, Cardiff and Islington have committed to  divest from fossil fuels 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 a 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.” continues Joan.

“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. We Greater Manchester pensioners deserve far better than this. Tameside Council and GMPF are ignoring the views of their Unison trade union members and the explicit guidance of the International Energy Agency. We’ll be lobbying the panel members to let them know our views. ” says fellow pensioner and trade unionist Allan Challenger.  

ENDS

Contacts for further information: Fossil Free Greater Manchester – email: fossilfreegm@gmail.com

Notes for editors

The protesters will be in Droylsden 9am – 10:00am on Friday 8th March at  Guardsman Tony Downes House, Droylsden. Photos available from the contact details above.

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 dealing with the pensions of over 400,000 local people from its Droylsden offices. Data issued in November 2023 by Platform UK showed that the GM fund has by far the highest level of investments in fossil fuel companies compared to other local government pension funds. The Management Panel consisting of local councillors from Tameside and the other GM boroughs meets quarterly. The GMPF Chair is Cllr Ged Cooney.

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/ 

Statement from Fossil Free West Yorkshire Pension Fund https://fossilfreewypf.wordpress.com/2024/02/19/fossil-free-breakthrough-for-west-yorkshire-pension-fund/

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