National data released today has revealed that Greater Manchester’s local authority pension fund is investing £1.8 billion in the fossil fuel industry.
Campaigners say the controversial investments threaten the climate and also represent an unacceptable financial risk to both present and future pensioners. The Greater Manchester Pension Fund is now the dirtiest in the UK, being the only local authority pension fund in the UK to invest over 10% of its portfolio in fossil fuels.
The release of the ‘Fuelling the Fire’ report and data coincides with UN international climate talks taking place in Bonn, Germany, which the UK government is attending. It highlights the incompatibility of the UK’s climate action promises with continued investment in the fossil fuel industry.
Chris Smith, local campaigner from Fossil Free Greater Manchester said:
“It’s shocking to see our pension fund continue to invest so significantly in such a financially risky and morally bankrupt industry.
“Two years ago, our government agreed to the Paris Treaty, pledging that the UK, along with the rest of the world, would take real action to tackle climate change.
“The fact that our Greater Manchester pension fund continues to invest in the companies responsible for the crisis flies in the face of this agreement, and of all the efforts being made locally to reduce emissions and combat climate change.”
Ellen Gibson, Divestment Campaigner with 350.org added:
“With hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, wildfires ravaging southern Europe and flooding and drought destroying lives across the world – the impacts of climate change are hitting hard.
“Despite this, UK councils are still plough billions into companies like Exxon, Shell and BP who have spent decades fuelling the crisis, and profiting on its back.
“Climate change isn’t a problem for future generations – it’s happening now, and action has never been more urgent. Our councils, and all public institutions, must cut their ties with the fossil fuel companies responsible and divest.”
The data and online map released by 350.org, Platform and Friends of the Earth ranks councils by their fossil fuel investments, and allows residents to see every company or fund their local council has invested in. Across the UK, council pension funds invest a total of £16bn in oil, coal and gas companies.
Full divestment commitments have so far been made by two UK council pension funds, with a further four making partial commitments. The campaign to divest local council pensions has this year received backing from Unison and the TUC .