Divest East Sussex 
22 August 2020
More info: 07596 483 272
PHOTO: https://tinyurl.com/chickeninscreenshot (CAPTION: A screenshot from the Zoom protest ‘Cllr Fox: Don’t let ESCC’s fossil fuel chickens come home to roost!’)
CHICKEN PROTEST OVER SETS WORLD RECORD
East Sussex Pension Committee chair Councillor Fox told not to let East Sussex County Council’s ‘fossil fuel chickens’ come home to roost
Saturday 22 August: Members of the public from across Brighton and East Sussex donned chicken masks to stage an online ‘chicken-in’ protest this morning (Saturday 22 August) as part of the campaign to get East Sussex County Council (ESCC) to stop investing in the giant oil and gas companies that are driving the climate crisis .
Over 57 people took part in the event, ‘Councillor Fox: Don’t let ESCC’s fossil fuel chickens come home to roost’, which set the world record for the ‘Most people to attend a Zoom protest wearing a chicken mask’. The protest featured a specially-written song (‘Things are getting hot down here in the henhouse’) and a short play (‘Silly chickens and their fossil fool investments’) in which the chickens travelled to Lewes to question Mr Fox.
Councillor Gerard Fox (Cons, Hailsham New Town) is the chair of the five-person East Sussex Pension Committee, which has ultimate decision-making powers over the East Sussex Pension Fund. As at 31 March, the Fund – which is the Local Government Pension Scheme for Brighton and Hove as well as East Sussex – had some £137.8m invested in fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) .
In June BP and Shell announced that they would be writing-down up to $39.5bn of their oil and gas assets – moves that Fortune magazine described as ‘just the tip of the iceberg for fossil fuels’ . In July over 240 members of the public submitted questions to ESCC about its investments in fossil fuels, demanding to know how it squared these investments with its October 2019 declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ .
Fran Witt from Divest East Sussex said: ‘With the window of opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change rapidly shrinking – and the big oil companies writing-down almost $90bn worth of their assets over the past nine months  – there’s never been a more important time for ESCC to ditch its investments in fossil fuels (its ‘fossil fuel chickens’) before they come home to roost.
‘Failure to limit global warming to 1.5ºC will lead to calamitous impacts for some of the world’s poorest people . But keeping global warming to 1.5ºC will require dramatic cuts in carbon emissions over the next ten years – cuts which are simply incompatible with the business models of these companies .
‘Moreover, the pandemic has brought forward the point of ‘peak demand’ for fossil fuels – that is, the point after which consumption starts permanently falling – creating the prospect of big losses for investors like ESCC .
‘Having already declared a ‘climate emergency’  ESCC now needs to put its words into action and stop funding the companies that are driving the climate crisis.’
More info: 07596 483 272
 See https://tinyurl.com/chickenin
 See the ‘Response by the Chair of the Pension Committee’ here: https://democracy.eastsussex.gov.uk/documents/b14745/Item%204%20-%20Public%20questions%2007th-Jul-2020%2010.00%20Full%20Council.pdf?T=9
 See https://carbontracker.org/reports/absolute-impact. This report predates BP’s recent announcement that it intends to cut its oil and gas extraction – excluding its major share in Russian oil giant Rosneft – by 40% by 2030. However, this ambition still appears to fall short of that required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees: http://priceofoil.org/2020/08/04/statement-in-response-to-bps-new-commitment-to-major-cuts-in-extraction-by-2030. For a vigorous critique of BP’s latest moves see https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/bp-green-promises-renewables-fossil-fuels-climate-crisis-a9667371.html
 See https://carbontracker.org/was-2019-the-peak-of-the-fossil-fuel-era, https://carbontracker.org/reports/decline-and-fall and https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-global-oil-demand-insight/end-game-for-oil-opec-prepares-for-an-age-of-dwindling-demand-idUKKCN24T0KT. According to the Financial Times a third of the value of the big oil and gas companies (about $900bn) ‘would evaporate if governments more aggressively attempted to restrict the rise in temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for the rest of this century’: https://www.ft.com/content/95efca74-4299-11ea-a43a-c4b328d9061c