East Sussex residents deliver UN climate report to County Council

Press release
Divest East Sussex [1]
17 October 2018

EAST SUSSEX RESIDENTS DELIVER UN CLIMATE REPORT TO COUNTY COUNCIL
Document should be a wake-up call for East Sussex Pension Fund, say campaigners

16 October, County Hall, Lewes: Members of local campaign group Divest East Sussex delivered the latest UN report on climate change to a meeting of East Sussex County Council yesterday, saying that it should be a wake-up call for the East Sussex Pension Fund to ditch its investments in the fossil fuel (oil, coal & gas) industries.

Published last week, ‘Global Warming of 1.5 °C’ concluded that “limiting global warming to 1.5C, compared with 2 °C, could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050” [2], but the window for doing this and thereby avoiding the worst impacts of climate change is rapidly closing.

Indeed, according to Professor Nicholas Stern, who authored the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change for the UK government, “the next 10 years will be absolutely crucial in determining what kind of world will exist in the decades beyond. If we act decisively, and innovate and invest wisely, we could both avoid the worst impacts of climate change … If we do not, we face a world in which it will become increasingly difficult for us and future generations to thrive.” [3]

The burning of fossil fuels is the main driver of global warming [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]. Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres greeted the report by calling on financial institutions – like the East Sussex Pension Fund – to assess the risks they were bringing about by not moving out of fossil fuels and related investments. [6]

Hugh Dunkerley, one of those delivering the report, said: “We’ve already seen global warming of over 1 degree centigrade, and the resulting climate change is now leading to increasingly severe impacts – from rapidly melting sea-ice at the poles to 50 degree heatwaves in India and drought in California. Three degrees of warming – which is where we’re currently heading – would see increasing areas of the planet being rendered essentially uninhabitable by drought and heat. We’re sure that the members of the East Sussex Pension Committee agree that we have a duty to future generations not to leave them such a world. We call on them to follow the lead of other pension funds around the world, and ditch their investments in these dangerous and risky fuels that are destroying the balance of the earth’s climate.”

ENDNOTES

[1] https://divesteastsussex.wordpress.com

[2] Global Warming of 1.5 °C, IPCC, 6 October 2018, B.5.1, http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf

[3] Nicholas Stern, ‘We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero or face more floods’, Guardian, 8 October 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/we-must-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emissions-to-net-zero-or-face-more-floods

[4] Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers, section SPM 1.2 ‘Causes of climate change’, http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf

[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] Christiana Figueres, Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible – if there is political will, Guardian, 8 October 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/limiting-warming-to-15c-is-possible-if-there-is-political-will-climate-change

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