Cross-party statement calls on East Sussex County Council to stop investing in fossil fuels

Press release
Divest East Sussex [1]
9 November 2017

CROSS-PARTY STATEMENT CALLS ON EAST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL TO STOP INVESTING IN FOSSIL FUELS
As international climate talks start in Bonn, new report shows that councils across the UK are investing more than £16 billion in companies like BP and Exxon

9 November 2017: As international climate take place in Bonn [2], campaigners have released a statement signed by 24 local councillors from across East Sussex calling on East Sussex County Council (ESCC) to stop investing local people’s pensions in fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas). The statement, which has been signed by Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Councillors, as well by Independents, welcomes ‘the recent unanimous cross-party decision by Labour and Conservative Councillors on the Waltham Forest Pension Fund Committee to completely divest the £735 million Waltham Forest Pension Fund of its investments in fossil fuel industries’ and calls on ESCC to ‘divest local people’s pensions from these dirty, damaging and financially risky industries.’ [3]

Signatories to the statement include Councillors on: Brighton & Hove City Council, Eastbourne Borough Council, Hailsham Town Council, Hastings Borough Council, Lewes District Council, Lewes Town Council, Newhaven Town Council, Rother District Council, Seaford Town Council, Wealden District Council and Withyham Parish Council.

National data released today by 350.org, Friends of the Earth and Platform has revealed that local councils across the UK are currently investing an estimated £16 billion in fossil fuels through their management of local pension funds [4]. The East Sussex Pension Fund – which is administered by the County Council and holds the pensions for a wide range of organisations from across East Sussex – is estimated to have at least £150m invested in fossil fuels [5]. Three members of the Fund – Hastings Borough Council, Lewes Town Council and Brighton and Hove City Council – have already passed motions calling on the Fund to divest from fossil fuels [6]. The campaign to divest local council pensions has this year received backing from Unison and the TUC [7].

Gabriel Carlyle from Divest East Sussex said: ‘It’s terrible that East Sussex County Council continues to invest so significantly in such a financially risky and morally bankrupt industry as fossil fuels. Two years ago, our government agreed to the Paris Treaty – pledging that the UK, along with the rest of the world, would take real action to tackle climate change. The fact that our local council continues to invest in the companies responsible for the crisis flies in the face of this agreement, and of all the efforts being made locally to reduce emissions and combat climate change. We urge all East Sussex residents to support the call for fossil fuel divestment by visiting http://tinyurl.com/esccdivest and adding their names to the Divest East Sussex petition’

Ellen Gibson, Divestment Campaigner with 350.org added: ‘With hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, wildfires ravaging southern Europe and flooding and drought destroying lives across the world – the impacts of climate change are hitting hard. Despite this, UK councils are still plowing billions into companies like Exxon, Shell and BP who have spent decades fuelling the crisis, and profiting on its back. Climate change isn’t a problem for future generations – it’s happening now, and action has never been more urgent. Our councils, and all public institutions, must cut their ties with the fossil fuel companies responsible and divest.’

ENDNOTES

[1] Divest East Sussex is a coalition of East Sussex organisations calling for the divestment of the East Sussex Pension Fund from Fossil Fuels. Members include Fossil Free Hastings (https://fossilfreehastings.wordpress.com), Climate Forest Row and Keep It In the Ground Lewes.
[2] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/05/the-cop23-climate-change-summit-in-bonn-and-why-it-matters
[3] For the text of the statement, together with the list of Councillors, see: https://wp.me/P8YS11-1L
[4] See https://gofossilfree.org/uk/fuellingthefire/
[5] ‘Breakdown of equity exposure’ in ‘Climate change, carbon risk and investments’, document circulated by investment consultants Hymans Robertson at the East Sussex Pension Fund training day on 13 June 2017.
[6] ‘Campaigners’ joy as Hastings council agrees fossil fuel divestment’, 14 April 2016, Hastings Observer, http://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/local/campaigners-joy-as-hastings-council-agrees-fossil-fuel-divestment-1-7328414. ‘Lewes Town Council calls for East Sussex Pension Fund to ditch its investments in oil, coal and gas’, 7 March 2017, https://fossilfreehastings.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/lewes-town-council-calls-for-east-sussex-pension-fund-to-ditch-its-investments-in-oil-coal-and-gas. ‘Brighton Council calls for East Sussex Pension Fund to ditch fossil fuels’, 6 April 2017, https://fossilfreehastings.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/brighton-council-calls-for-east-sussex-pension-fund-to-ditch-fossil-fuels.
[7] The text of the TUC motion – which was adopted unanimously – can be found here: http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/text-of-the-composited-resolution-on-climate-change-adopted-by-the-tuc-sept-12-2017/

 

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