Time to retire fossil fuels: Liberal Democrats want pension fund to go green

Oldham’s Liberal Democrats are backing the Fossil Fuel Greater Manchester campaign in asking the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, the largest of its kind in the country, to go green and ditch investments in coal, gas and coal.

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, wrote recently to the Council’s representative on the board of the pension fund, Labour Deputy Leader Councillor Abdul Jabbar MBE, asking for his help in making this request a reality.

Howard Sykes, countryside

Councillor Sykes explained: “In light of the long-term threat posed to our natural environment and humanity by climate change, Oldham Council has like many others declared a climate emergency and has set ambitious goals to become a carbon neutral local authority by 2025 and a carbon neutral borough by 2030. It seems incongruous that both we as a Council and our employees continue to contribute to a pension fund that has significant investments in fossil fuels.”

At 31 March 2019, GMPF had direct holdings of over £1.3 billion in fossil fuel companies, along with an estimated £350 million in pooled equity funds. This is a total of £1.71 billion, which is 7% of total holdings, as recorded in the March 2019 Annual Report.

Councillor Sykes has asked his colleague, who is the Cabinet Member for Green issues, to raise the need for divestment into green technologies at the board. “I am hopeful that Cllr Jabbar will be supportive of our ambitions for the board to
recognise the need for divestment and to clearly identify a firm timetable and ambitious time-bound targets to get out of fossil-fuels soon and for good.”

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