A new report from 350.org, Platform and Friends of the Earth shows that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund is investing £1billion in companies such as Shell, BP and Statoil that are heavily involved in fracking. This despite all the leaders of Greater Manchester councils, including Salford, proclaiming support for eco-friendly policies.
The GM Pension Fund, led by Tameside Council, handles investments of pension funds for public sector workers in the region, although nobody gets a say in where their money is actually invested.
There are local councillors who sit on the GM Pension Board, including Michele Barnes from Salford, but they don't seem to have done anything in the years that campaigners have called for disinvestment from fossil fuel companies.
Friends of the Earth claims that the companies the Pension Fund is investing in are extensively involved in controversial fracking projects globally... "For instance" the group states "both Shell and BP are involved in a massive fracking operation in Argentina where they are accused of violating the rights of local communities, polluting water supplies and destroying agricultural livelihoods."
Full divestment commitments have so far been made by two UK council pension funds, Waltham Forest and Southwark, with a further five making partial commitments. Greater Manchester isn't one of them.
"It's shocking to see that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund is investing almost a billion pounds in fracking" says Chris Smith, spokesperson for Fossil Free Greater Manchester "That's almost twice the amount of any other council-run fund.
"Fracking threatens communities, destroys local landscapes, and fuels climate change across the globe" he adds "As this industry tries to get a foothold in the UK, it's crucial that our councils – and Tameside Council in particular – take a clear stand against fracking and divest from the companies responsible."
Sakina Sheikh, divestment campaigner with Platform adds: "The devastating fires and record temperatures this summer have brought the impacts of climate change home. Neither local communities or our climate can afford for the fracking industry to win. Our councils are providing everyday support to the frackers, it's time to stop. It's time to divest from fossil fuels."
For more background see previous Salford Star article Greater Manchester Pension Fund Worst Offender In UK For Fossil Fuel Investment – click here
Photo by Steven Speed