by The Steady State Manchester team
Steady State Manchester campaigners joined yesterday with Fossil Free Greater Manchester, Frack-Free Greater Manchester, Friends of the Earth, Platform London, Global Justice Now, Fossil Free UK, Justice for Colombia and Argentina Solidarity Campaign to share experiences in the opposition to BP, Shell and other fossil fuel companies’ continued drive to extract as much fossil fuel as possible, whether conventional oil and gas or unconventional, fracked, shale oil and gas.
We heard about environmental and social destruction in Argentina from Fernando Cabrera of Observatorio Petrolero Sur (OPSur) and in Colombia from Fabian Laverde of COSPACC. Their presentations were complemented by Helena Coates of Frack Free Greater Manchester and Maggie Walker of Fossil Free Greater Manchester both of whom drew out the connections between what happens here in the North West and in the global South.
Steady State Manchester participants also pointed out (to broad agreement) that the fossil fuel industry itself sits as an integral part of an economic system that seeks continual expansion, reliant on the concentrated energy provided by fossil fuels. We do want to see renewable energy replacing fossil fuels but this is far from happening and nor is it likely that it would “fuel” the continuation of material growth production and consumption. The implications are profound for our way of life.
Video interviews with speakers will be available later.
Meanwhile here is the press release from Fossil Free Greater Manchester drawing attention to the involvement of Greater Manchester Pension Fund whose two biggest holding just turn out to be in Shell and BP.
Fossil Free Greater Manchester news release
On Monday 21st May, campaigners from Fossil Free Greater Manchester and pension fund members will be joining campaigners from Latin America at a vigil outside BP’s Annual General meeting in Manchester, calling on BP to stop fracking in Argentina and worldwide. 
Greater Manchester residents overwhelming oppose fracking. The Manchester Evening News conducted a poll in 2014 and found that 73% of respondents opposed fracking.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called for a presumption against fracking  and Manchester, Bury, Salford, Trafford concils, and Westhoughton town council in Bolton have also come out strongly against fracking.
In a Manchester Friends of the Earth survey of local election candidates across Greater Manchester, 87% of the 342 candidates who responded agreed that “the Greater Manchester Pension Fund should fully divest from fossil fuels in the next five years.” 
In 2017, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) invested over £820 million in companies that are involved in fracking in the UK and worldwide. And BP was the GMPF’s second largest investment holding. 
BP, does not frack in the UK because of concerns for its reputation here (it would attract the wrong kind of attention). However, BP is a key backer of the Vaca Muerta mega fracking project which, according to local community organisations in Argentina, is being forced through by the Macri government and major fossil fuel corporations at the expense of the indigenous peoples living in Patagonia. The project is also reported as being associated with countless environmental and human rights abuses, including the deaths and disappearances of known local activists and community members. 
Ali Abbas from Fossil Free Greater Manchester said:
“The consensus in Greater Manchester is against fracking, and yet the Greater Manchester Pension Fund continues to invest huge sums into the fracking industry and dirty fossil fuels. We need the Pension Fund to show leadership on climate change and divest from all fossil fuel companies”.
Research, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe, and undertaken by researchers at the Tyndall Centre (University of Manchester) and Teeside University has shown that fracking will add more greenhouse gas emissions to an already overburdened atmosphere, amplifying the already accelerating process of global warming and climate change.  As well as having more immediate impacts on air, water and land in the fracked places and on the communities who live there.
Contact for comments
Ali Abbas, Fossil Free Greater Manchester, Mobile: 07786 090520
Notes for editors
 See: Call out BP’s Human Rights Abuses in Latin America – AGM Vigil, 10am, Monday 21st May.
Join us on 21 May outside BP’s Annual General Meeting to call out the social and environmental devastation they are bringing to Argentina and remember those who’ve been affected by BP’s operations in Colombia.
Meeting outside Manchester Central Library at 10am, we will hear from a speaker from Argentina on the damage BP’s fracking pursuits are causing to communities and the environment in Patagonia. We’ll also be joined by Fabian Laverde, from Colombia, who will be challenging BP about its impacts on communities and their lands, and demanding justice for those abuses. We’ll then stage a vigil outside the BP AGM (at the Manchester Central Convention Centre) for those affected by BP’s current and historic abuses.
Join us to demonstrate to the shareholders that BP is a toxic company to invest in for people and climate. https://www.facebook.com/event s/357912441366813/
 Manchester Friends of the Earth local election survey. See Question 2 – Divestment from Fossil Fuels. 299 (87%) of 342 local election candidates agreed. http://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk/election-survey-2018-parties /
 Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) holdings at the end of year 2016-7 can be found here: https://www.gmpf.org.uk/documents/investments/holdings/2017/ mar/mainstream.pdf
Shell and BP: As of 31 March, 2017 (the most recent report from the Fund on its investments), the Fund’s two biggest investments were in Shell at £318 Million BP at £275 Million. BP does not try to frack in the UK because it “would attract the wrong kind of attention”. But both BP and Shell are involved in Vaca Muerta (which, appropriately enough, means “Dead Cow”) a fracking mega-project in Argentina. The extraction of this, the world’s second largest reserve of gas, threatens indigenous land rights, safe drinkable water and clean air for people in Patagonia.
Barclays: At £119 Million, Barclays was the fourth biggest holding of the Fund. Barclays has been heavily involved in the financing of fracking. Under considerable pressure from campaigners it has announced that it is to sell off its stake in Third Energy, but as yet it has not, and indeed it has increased its loan to the company. It seems from statements made at the AGM that they may be waiting for fracking to begin before selling. Barclays still has a statement in favour of fracking from 2015 on its website.
Centrica: The Fund had £78 Million in Centrica, which owns British Gas. Centrica is one of the backers of Cuadrilla, the UK fracking company that has been drilling in Lancashire.
Chevron, Exxon, Conoco Philips: The Fund has investments (totalling £20 Million in 2017) in all these major oil companies, heavily involved in fracking in North America.
Other companies: The Fund invests in Duke and Schlumberger (£16.4M in 2017), both companies heavily involved in fracking.
 See Vaca Muerta Megaproject: A fracking carbon bomb in Patagonia. http://opsur.org.ar/2 018/02/05/vaca-muerta-megaproject-a-fracking-carbon-bomb-in- patagonia/
 See Natural gas and climate change (2017) http://www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/extractive_industries/2017/natural_gas_and_ climate_change_anderson_broder ick_october2017.pdf