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GREATER MANCHESTER PENSION FUND WORST OFFENDER IN UK FOR FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENT
 

Star date: 12th November 2017

GM PENSION FUND 1.8BILLION INVESTED IN FOSSIL FUELS

A new report, Councils: Fuelling The Fire, reveals that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund invests more in fossil fuels, which accelerate climate change, than any other public body in the UK.

"Our elected local councillors have a major role to play in creating a pensions industry that is not just paying out pensions, but also making sure we will have a future worth retiring for" state the authors, revealing 1.8billion of GM Pension Funds is invested in fossil fuels.

Full details here...


Councils: Fuelling The Fire Greater Manchester Divestment Protest
click image to enlarge

"By investing in fossil fuel extraction, our local governments are profiting from climate change..."

As Greater Manchester Combined Authority and local councils, including Salford City Council, urge a switch to green policies, the financial elephant in the room is the huge amounts invested in fossil fuels by the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which looks after 17,182,862,772 worth of public sector workers' money in the region.

Across the UK, 295billion of retirement funds for around six million people in 97 different local authorities is controlled by public pension funds, and how they invest that money has become a huge issue as it influences the economy. In recent years, pressure has been put on the fund administrators to divest, or take their money out of fossil fuel companies to help stop the acceleration of climate change.

A new report out this week, with authors from 350.org, Platform, Community Reinvest and Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Scotland, reveals just how much of these pension funds are invested in fossil fuels. And the Greater Manchester Pension Fund tops the UK league for both the highest proportion of assets invested in fossil fuel companies and the highest amount invested.

From its fund value of over 17billion, the GM Pension Fund invests 10.2%, or 1.75billion in fossil fuels, 800million more than the second placed West Yorkshire Pension Fund.

"Local councils bear the responsibility of looking after their workers in their retirement" states the report authors "Everyone has a stake in how pension funds are invested and council pensions, managed with input from our elected local councillors, have a major role to play in creating a pensions industry that is not just paying out pensions, but also making sure we will have a future worth retiring for.

"Councils have an opportunity to break away from the short-term thinking of the financial sector and move towards an investment practice that takes on the biggest challenge of our age: climate change" they add.

While six pension funds in local government schemes across the UK have already committed to cut their fossil fuel investments - the Environment Agency Pension Fund, Haringey, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Southwark and South Yorkshire - Greater Manchester is named and shamed as the "worst offender" in 'fuelling the fire'.

Fossil fuel companies named in the report and heavily invested in by the GM Pension Fund are BP (275million) and Shell (285million), both involved in fracking and environmental scandals. Other fossil fuel investments include Rio Tinto Ord (144.4million), Anglo American (115.2million) and Centrica Ord (78.2million).

"By investing in fossil fuel extraction, our local governments are profiting from climate change" state the report's authors "As public bodies, local governments have a responsibility to work for the public good; they shouldn't be financially and politically supporting the most destructive industry on the planet.

"Fossil fuel investments undermine existing local authority climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and commitments" they explain "Although most major companies have now ceased to openly deny climate change, the industry still ploughs $100 million every day into exploring for new reserves and maintains that it will not be prevented from burning its existing reserves.

"UK-based oil companies BP and Shell are planning for a world warmed by 3-5C or more" they add "The fossil fuel industry shows no sign of attempting to change its
behaviour to adapt to the risks of climate change... By divesting from fossil fuels, councils and other public institutions can collectively stigmatise the fossil fuel industry, challenging the power these companies hold over our planet, economy and politics, and call for action on the climate crisis."

Instead, the report states, public pension funds should be investing in new technologies... "electric cars, wave power and floating wind can bring green jobs to our communities whilst investment in green housing and insulation could house millions and cut fuel poverty...

"The need for action is urgent in order to avert the environmental and economic costs of climate change and to rebalance the economy to one which provides decent work" it concludes "Council pension funds can back this change by shunning fossil fuels and investing in green jobs."


To read the full report and get involved in the divestment campaign click here

See also previous Salford Star article on GM divestment click here

Alice wrote
at 14:31:20 on 13 November 2017
Thanks SS for that informative piece. Where is Andy Burnham on this policy. I went to his presentation on his 'intended environmental policy' when he was standing for Manchester Mayor He stated that he was definitely against Fracking and Greater Manchester would be a 'frack free ' area under his watch. I hope this is still his intention. I have faith in Friends of the Earth in their campaign against Fracking and hope they are putting pressure on our Mayor. He must keep his word to earn his pay.

Bob wrote
at 14:31:15 on 13 November 2017
Fossil fuel companies,climate change believers, climate change deniers, pension fund managers. Thing in common, they are all experts. A French Canadian guy I know who constructs eco buildings over here said "That is the one thing wrong with Britain, it's a nation run by too many experts" How right he was. We all know for sure what a good investment property is. just look at the figures. The price of houses goes up faster, a lot faster than the price of fossil fuel company shares do.The income from rents is also better than the share dividends. On the boards of these pension funds sit all sorts of people, not just investment managers. They can and often do, make ethical choices about what not and what to invest in. Some of them, did not used to invest in South Africa involved companies or tobacco drink and gambling companies. These pensions control not only workers pensions, but also those of " descision makers", like Dennett and his gang.These descision makers have considerable influence. Why do these pension funds not put their money into housing ideas that our politicians have, also the ones of our wonderful housing associations. The only reason must be that these people ,all of them ,that sit on these investment boards, must know for sure that money given to such projects is not a viable idea.Would anyone in their right minds invest and trust schemes thought out by City West, Salix, and Dennetts mob?

Mark H Burton wrote
at 06:20:12 on 13 November 2017
Thanks for covering this. I'd just add that there is a campaign, Fossil Free Greater Manchester, for the Greater Manchester Pension Fund to divest from its fossil fuel holdings (in a planned, managed way, starting from the most damaging). Learn more at http://fossilfreegm.org.uk You can also ask your councillor to support fossil fuel divestment with this quick action: https://act.350.org/go/22535?t=5&akid=28846%2E2445488%2ECNhdqr Thanks!

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