Local residents stage ‘Climate Tug of War’ in Hastings Town Centre

The Climate Tug of War about to get under way.
The Climate Tug of War about to get under way.

13 February, Hastings: Residents of Hastings and St Leonards staged a tug of war between fossil fuel industries and the earth’s climate in Hastings Town Centre this afternoon, as part of a new local campaign, Fossil Free Hastings. The campaign aims to get East Sussex County Council (ESCC) to rid itself of its £172m of investments in the oil, coal and gas industries [2].

The Fossil Fool rejects Di Vest's arguments as the fossil fuel team takes the strain.
The Fossil Fool rejects Di Vest’s arguments as the fossil fuel team takes the strain.

Two teams – one dressed in black, the other in green – vied for the future of the planet’s atmosphere, while members of the public were encouraged to pick a side and show their support for their chosen team. Each team was egged-on by its own spokesperson: ‘Fossil Fool’ (representing the oil, coal and gas industries) and ‘Di-vest’ representing the earth’s climate. The action was part of a nation-wide weekend of action organised by Fossil Free UK, which saw over 20 actions take place across the country from Penzance to Edinburgh [3].

Di Vest @ the climate tug of war in Hastings Town Centre.
Di Vest @ the climate tug of war in Hastings Town Centre.

According to the current science, at least 80% of the world’s proven reserves of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) will need to remain in the ground if we are to have a reasonable chance of keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius [4] – a threshold that world leaders at the 2009 Climate Summit recognised should not be crossed [5].

Members of Fossil Free Hastings [1] are calling on ESCC to immediately freeze all new direct investments in fossil fuel industries, and to commit to ridding itself of all of its current investments, direct and indirect, within the next five years. They are also calling on Hastings Borough Council – a contributor to the East Sussex Pension Fund [6] – to pass a divestment motion at its April meeting.

Local ESCC pension holder Karl Horton said: “East Sussex County Council currently has £172m of local people’s pensions invested in fossil fuels (coal, gas & oil). These investments will lose much of their value [7] when fossil fuel companies are compelled to leave 80% of their reserves in the ground – which they must be compelled to do if we’re to have any chance of preventing catastrophic climate

change. We urge Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council to commit to ridding themselves of these investments, which are not only jeopardising our children’s future, but also putting local people’s pensions at risk.”

NOTES

[1] https://fossilfreehastingsblog.wordpress.com/
[2] ‘REVEALED: UK Councils have £14 billion invested in fossil fuels’, Fossil Free UK, 24 September 2015, http://gofossilfree.org/uk/revealed-uk-councils-have-14-billion-invested-in-fossil-fuels/. The £172m figure is based on data collected through Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) to administering authorities for the 2013/14 financial year. It includes direct equity holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies as well as estimated fossil fuel investments in pooled equity funds.
[3] http://gofossilfree.org/uk/show-the-love/
[4] Bill McKibben, ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math’, Rolling Stone Magazine, 19 July 2012, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

Di Vest eggs on the climate team.
Di Vest eggs on the climate team.

[5] In the non-binding ‘Copenhagen Accord’ issued at the end of the 2009 UN Climate Summit (COP19), ‘The Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, and other
heads of delegation present’ noted that ‘To achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius … enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change.’ (http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/cop15/eng/l07.pdf). However, even the 2 degrees ‘target’ now appears to be much more dangerous than was previously believed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2657409/
[6] https://esccpensionfund.wordpress.com/members/
[7] HSBC has ‘warned that 40-60% of the market capitalisation of oil and gas companies [is] at risk from the carbon bubble, with the top 200 fossil fuel companies alone having a current value of $4tn, along with $1.5tn debt.’ ‘Carbon bubble will plunge the world into another financial crisis – report’, Guardian, 19 April 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/apr/19/carbon-bubble-financial-crash-crisis

Di Vest @ the climate tug of war in Hastings Town Centre.
Di Vest @ the climate tug of war in Hastings Town Centre.
They also serve who only stand and hold the banner ...
They also serve who “only” stand and hold the banner …
The Fossil Fool (boo, hiss).
The Fossil Fool (boo, hiss).
The climate tug of war in full swing in Hastings Town Centre.
The climate tug of war in full swing in Hastings Town Centre.
At least someone brought an umbrella ...
At least someone brought an umbrella …
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