1. What is the purpose of your group? (three or four sentences)
Fossil Free Greater Manchester is asking Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) to divest £1.3bn of members’ pension money from fossil fuels. We are specifically requesting that they divest within 5 years and are calling on GMPF to immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels. We’re also encouraging GMPF to work with the Greater Manchester combined authority to come up with a mechanism for achieving positive returns and positive social impact. The excellent Community Reinvest report “Reinvesting Pensions” identifies mechanisms and past examples of pension funds doing just that.
2. How do you find out what skills and knowledge the people who get involved have?
On an ad hoc basis – we put a call out to people interested in the campaign as to if they have a skill and would like to use it to help us out.
3. How do you find out what skills and knowledge the people who get involved want to develop?
Ad hoc – we are happy to let anyone try any of the tasks to learn through doing and those with more skills will help them and give feedback.
4. If people get involved in your group, what sorts of things will they end up doing? (stuffing envelopes, selling newspapers, knocking on doors, getting arrested etc etc)
Engaging with the general public through petitioning and leafleting, helping to engage with councillors and the councils of each of the local authorities in Greater Manchester re the campaign, engaging with unions, attending events where influential members of the councils can be engaged. We are open to any creative ideas and new angles that people want to work on. Our group works wherever possible within the law to achieve our aims and objectives, looking to make long-term, lasting change.
Successes and “opportunities for improvement”* in 2015.
5. What have been your group’s main Manchester-based successes in the past year? (i.e. nothing that took place outside the ring road counts)
Our launch at the GMPF office in Droylsden was a great success with media in attendance (BBC NW, BBC Radio Manchester, local papers). GMPF have changed the wording of their policy on investment stating they can now consider divesting on moral grounds – a reaction to the replies to their consultation on their policies, a process initiated by the request of campaigners from Fossil Free Greater Manchester.
More recently we have worked alongside members of UNISON North West to see them pass a motion in favour of divestment which they look to debate at the national UNISON conference. With such a large trade union supporting our movement we look to put the pressure on GMPF further.
6. What were the things you hoped to achieve but didn’t.
See GMPF commit to divest in the future. Expand the group to increase our capacity on what we can work on
The coming year
7. What do you hope to achieve in 2016? What are your success metrics for December 31st 2016.
See GMPF commit to divestment and draw up a plan on how they hope to achieve this. Spread the word of the campaign to as many people as possible – especially members of the fund
8. What (up to 3) things would you like to see done in Manchester to make the city less crap on climate action
a) by the City Council
Support the call for GMPF to divest.
b) by the “climate movement”
Have better communication between groups on actions and campaigns
9. What is the stupidest thing the “climate movement” could do this year?
Lose the momentum of the movement from Paris, the floods, etc this winter – the movement feels stronger than ever and we need to try and keep that up
10. How can people get involved?
Come along to one of our actions across the boroughs (see our Facebook Page or Twitter handle for updates on this) If you want to help us plan our strategies then feel free to attend our meetings
11. Anything else you’d like to say.
Our group is very young (around 6 months) – we are still a small group and would be extremely happy to welcome anyone on to the group with any help they can provide. We want to get ourselves out there and make this a big issue for all of the Greater Manchester boroughs. This is one of the strongest ways to combat fossil fuel companies – if high profile investors pull out this will tarnish their financial reputation. And if we can get GMPF to commit to investing this in the industries that will benefit GM (renewables, infrastructure, etc) we could see the healthier, more sustainable city we want sooner than we might have thought.