‘We can no longer wait for you to act’ – our ultimatum to the East Sussex Pension Committee

The following letter was delivered by Divest East Sussex to the five members of the East Sussex Pension Committee at  meeting on 25 November 2019. You can sign the pledge to take part in the ‘Deeds Not Words’ nonviolent action campaign here: https://tinyurl.com/deedsnotwordspledge

————————————–

25 November 2019

Councillor Gerard Fox
Chairman of the East Sussex County Council Pension Fund Committee
County Hall
St Anne’s Crescent, Lewes
East Sussex BN7 1UE

Dear Councillor Fox,

For the last four years people and institutions from across East Sussex have been calling on the East Sussex Pension Fund to stop funding climate change.

You know that “the next 10 years will be absolutely crucial in determining what kind of world will exist in the decades beyond”. That “if we act decisively, and innovate and invest wisely, we could … avoid the worst impacts of climate change” but that “If we do not, we face a world in which it will become increasingly difficult for us and future generations to thrive” (Professor Nicholas Stern, author of the UK Government’s Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change).

‘Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will’

Yet you refuse to stop investing local people’s pensions in the giant oil and gas companies – companies like Exxon, Shell and BP – that are driving the climate crisis.

You know that despite many years of ‘engagement’ not a single major oil company has re-aligned its business model with a 2ºC world, that these same companies have spent $1bn on trying to undermine the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and that there are no precedents for a company changing its core business model following pressure from shareholders.

Yet you continue to cling to a policy of ‘engaging’ with these companies.

And you know that over 1,100 institutions around the world – who collectively manage over $11 trillion worth of assets – have already made some form of divestment commitment, including several UK pension funds.

Yet you refuse even to ask your investment consultants to provide an analysis of the implications of divesting the East Sussex Pension Fund from fossil fuels.

You claim to be “moving in a similar direction” to those calling for the East Sussex Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels.

Yet it appears to be a movement so slow as to be barely discernible.

‘As Australia burns, the Arctic melts and after tropical cyclones have left a devastated Mozambique, we can no longer wait for you to act.’

In his famous ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ Martin Luther King Jnr noted that: ‘Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will’ and that the greatest opponents of the Black freedom struggle were not the Ku Klux Klan but those ‘moderates’ who constantly advised the African-Americans ‘to wait for a “more convenient season.”’

‘unless the Pension Committee agrees: (a) to immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies; and (b) to divest from its existing investments over the next five years, we will be launching a campaign of nonviolent action to compel you to take the urgent action which the current crisis requires’

East Sussex County Council has declared a ‘climate emergency’. As Australia burns, the Arctic melts and after tropical cyclones have left a devastated Mozambique, we can no longer wait for you to act.

We therefore put you on notice that unless the Pension Committee agrees: (a) to immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies; and (b) to divest from its existing investments over the next five years, we will be launching a campaign of nonviolent action to compel you to take the urgent action which the current crisis requires.

The time is now.

CC:
Councillor Simon Elford
Councillor Nigel Enever
Councillor David Tutt
Councillor Trevor Webb

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s