Revealed: East Sussex schools funding climate change through local pension scheme

Press release
Divest East Sussex [1]
12 March 2019

REVEALED: EAST SUSSEX SCHOOLS FUNDING CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH LOCAL PENSION SCHEME
As pupils ready for climate strike, call for schools to back divestment from fossil fuels

12 March 2019, East Sussex: As thousands of school students from across the UK prepare to take to the streets this Friday (15 March) to demand urgent action on climate change [2], a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that over forty schools and and sixth-form colleges in East Sussex are inadvertently funding global warming through their contributions to the Local Government Pension Scheme, the East Sussex Pension Fund (ESPF).

According to data provided by East Sussex County Council (ESCC), the schools and colleges are contributing at least £9.8 million a year to the East Sussex Pension Fund [3], which is estimated to have £150m of local people’s pension monies invested in giant oil and gas companies like Exxon and BP [4]. The list of schools includes Sussex Coast College, Bexhill Sixth Form College and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College. Burning fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) is the main driver of global warming [5].

The list of local schools contributions to the East Sussex Pension Fund, as provided under the Freedom of Information Act.

Campaigners calling on the Council to ditch its investments in fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) have already received backing from four members of the Fund – Hastings Borough Council, Lewes Town Council, Lewes District Council and Brighton and Hove City Council [6] – and are now urging schools and students to add their support. Around the world over 1,000 institutions in 76 countries, managing assets worth more than $8 trillion, have made some form of divestment commitment since 2012 [7].

Gabriel Carlyle, a spokesperson for Divest East Sussex, said: “Local students are probably completely unaware that their schools are unwittingly contributing to climate change by investing, through their contributions to the East Sussex Pension Fund, in fossil fuel companies like Shell and Exxon. We urge local schools and their students to add their support to the call for the Fund to ditch these dirty and financially risky investments.”

NOTES

[1] https://divesteastsussex.wordpress.com
[2] See https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/01/youth-climate-strikers-we-are-going-to-change-the-fate-of-humanity. Climate Strikes are known to be taking place in Brighton and Hastings.
[3] See https://divesteastsussex.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/foi-ref-2111365.pdf. For the text of the original FoIA application and response see https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/details_of_contributions_by_scho#incoming-1314141
[4] ‘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.
[5] 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
[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. Lewes District Council: http://democracy.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/documents/g1911/Printed%20minutes%2026th-Nov-2018%2018.00%20Lewes%20District%20Council%20Full%20Council.pdf?T=1
[7] https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/commitments/

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