East Sussex Campaigners hail first UK pension fund to ditch fossil fuel investments

EAST SUSSEX CAMPAIGNERS HAIL FIRST UK PENSION FUND TO DITCH FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENTS
County Council urged to follow lead shown by Waltham Forest

Campaigners from around East Sussex have welcomed the news that Waltham Forest pension fund is to divest itself of its £23.9 million worth of investments in the oil, coal and gas industries [2]. The Fund, worth £735 million, will become the first UK Pension Fund to completely divest itself from fossil fuels.

In April, Hastings Borough Council passed a unanimous cross-party motion, calling on East Sussex County Council to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund from fossil fuels [3]. The East Sussex Pension Fund – which is administered by the County Council [4] and holds the pensions for a wide range of organisations from across East Sussex – currently has an estimated £172m invested in fossil fuels [5]. Divestment campaigners also addressed the East Sussex Pension Committee at County Hall in Lewes earlier this month, following the hand-in of a 300-strong petition urging the County Council to divest the Fund [6].

Gabriel Carlyle from Divest East Sussex said: “Investments in oil, coal and gas are not only damaging the balance of our climate but also pose serious financial risks to many pension holders across the UK. By commiting to divest its Pension Fund from fossil fuels, Waltham Forest have demonstrated the kind of action that all pension funds should be taking if we’re going to prevent catastrophic climate change and protect workers’ futures. We urge East Sussex County Council to follow their lead, and divest the East Sussex Fund from these dirty and damaging fuels.”

ENDNOTES

[1] Divest East Sussex is a coalition of East Sussex organisations calling for the divestment of the East Sussex Pension Fund from Fossil Fuels. Members include Fossil Free Hastings: https://fossilfreehastings.wordpress.com
[2] ‘WIN: First UK pension fund divests from fossil fuels’, 23 September 2016, http://gofossilfree.org/uk/win-first-uk-pension-fund-divests-from-fossil-fuels/
[3] ‘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.
[4] https://new.eastsussex.gov.uk/jobs/workingateastsussexcountycouncil/pensions
[5] ‘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.
[6] https://fossilfreehastings.wordpress.com/2016/09/21/divestment-statement-to-the-east-sussex-pension-committee/

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