Fossil Free Greater Manchester
Contributed by Ishiko Yi-Shien Looi on 02.03.2016
An Article about Manchester Friends of the Earth Fossil Free Manchester Meeting by Ishiko Looi
Last Monday, I attended a group meeting held by the Fossil Free Greater Manchester group. They are a group of people from different age groups and career fields who were gathered together for a campaign that calls on the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) to divest from coal, oil and gas companies and reinvest the money into positive alternatives, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.
According to Ali Abbas, an active member in the group, the current GMPF holds approximately £13 Billion and just under 10% of the total amount of the Pension Fund is invested directly or indirectly into fossil fuel related companies, which add up to approximately £1.3 billion. The argument to divest is becoming increasingly strong: in order to meet the internationally agreed 2C target a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and 80% of coal reserves must remain in the ground.
Ali and other members in the group have regular meetings twice a month in the Green Fish Resource Centre to discuss ways to spread awareness to the public and gathering voices from the public to influence the choice of councils and pension scheme members. They regularly email one another and update new information on their websites, Twitter and Facebook pages to announce achievements or happening events.
The meeting started with a live Skype group call with members from Fossil Free campaigns across the UK and everyone give the latest updates from their regions. From Bristol, Holly updated that they managed to hold an event in Bath which they successfully got the Green Party and Universities involved. The update from West Yorkshire by Jane was they have got a protocol set up that has a slogan “Clean Up West Yorkshire” and their idea was to use brooms and decorate them to spread the awareness. In London, Ellen updated us that they have teamed up with a few campaigns and boats were decorated into different colours (which represent different campaigns) to raise awareness of flooding and Climate Change issues. Then Ali representing the Greater Manchester Group gave the latest update about the progress that they have achieved recently. He introduced the great news from Chester, where North West UNISON passed a motion supporting divestment from fossil fuel.
After the Skype call, Ali started the internal group meeting discussing on new ideas to spread awareness. Everyone in the group had a quick brainstorm and came out with an idea to take advantage of the coming Valentine Day and use it as a concept to spread awareness to the public regarding to cutting down fossil-fuel usage and gather their voice to the council.
They were planning on a few hours of Valentine’s Fossil Free action for the weekend on Saturday from 10am-2pm (weather and footfall dependent) to coincide with the national For The Love Of Action by Fossil Free UK. The members were going to walk the “dinosaur” (which is their proudly handmade prop they’ve used for their awareness spreading events) over to St. Ann's Square and move across to Exchange Square depending on foot traffic. Since the theme of the action was Valentines they have decided to make some green heart postcards which they will ask members of the public to write on explaining why they want to see GMPF divest and those will be sent to GMPF.
The event on Saturday was a great success. The big dinosaur prop attracted a lot of attention from passers-by and the team successfully got a lot of people to write on green heart shaped paper with their thoughts on climate change and divestment. Many supported the call on the Pension Fund to take its money out of fossil fuels and invest instead in the solutions to climate change.
Watch the video for the event on Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utx38FkYV2U
For more information, please visit:
gofossilfree.org/uk/local-authority-campaigns/ (Greater Manchester)