East Sussex residents take part in first UK-wide gathering of fossil fuel divestment campaigners

EAST SUSSEX RESIDENTS TAKE PART IN FIRST UK-WIDE GATHERING OF FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT CAMPAIGNERS
East Sussex should follow lead set by Waltham Forest, Haringey and South Yorkshire, say local residents

24 October: Campaigners from around East Sussex joined scores of people from across the UK in Hertfordshire last weekend for the first UK-wide gathering of fossil fuel divestment campaigners.

The gathering – which was attended by members of Fossil Free Hastings, Keep It in the Ground Lewes and Climate Forest Row – included campaigners from as far afield as Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as members of three campaigns that have already succeeded in wholly or partially divesting their local pension funds from fossil fuels (coal, oil & gas): Waltham Forest, Haringey and South Yorkshire. [2]

The East Sussex Pension Fund – which is administered by the County Council [3] – currently has an estimated £172m of local people’s pensions invested in fossil fuels [4]. In April, Hastings Borough Council – a member of the Pension Fund – passed a unanimous cross-party motion, calling on East Sussex County Council to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund from fossil fuels [5].

Campaigners in Hastings will be holding a stall in Hastings town centre this Saturday (29 October) to collect signatures for a petition calling on the County Council to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund from fossil fuels. The stall, which will run from 11am – 1pm, will take place near Millets in Wellington Place.

The petition notes that: “Investments in fossil fuels (oil, coal & gas) are damaging the balance of our climate and pose serious financial risks to investors, including many local pension holders.” and that “Over 500 institutions, representing over $3 trillion in assets, have already committed to divest (i.e. move their money away) from fossil fuel companies.”

Julia Hilton from Fossil Free Hastings said: “It was inspiring to meet so many people from across the country who are fighting to make these dirty and damaging fuels a thing of the past and to get local people’s money reinvested in local infrastructure, such as renewable energy – benefiting both future pensioners and the local economy. If Councillors in Waltham Forest, Haringey and South Yorkshire can be persuaded to support such sensible and prudent steps, why not those in East Sussex? We invite local people to come and talk to us in the town centre this Saturday or to go online and sign the petition at http://tinyurl.com/eastsussexdivest.”

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] In September 2016 the Waltham Forest Pension Committee agreed to divest its pension fund of its £23.9 million worth of investments in the oil, coal and gas industries (‘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/). In January 2016 the Haringey Council decided to divest its Pension Fund from coal investments and to invest £200m into a low-carbon fund (‘Haringey Council divests from coal and moves £200 million into low carbon fund’, 19 Januaty 2016, http://gofossilfree.org/uk/press-release/haringey-council-divests-from-coal-and-moves-200-million-into-low-carbon-fund/). In November 2015 the South Yorkshire Pension Fund committed to divest itself from ‘pure’ coal and tar sands investments (‘South Yorkshire Pension Fund commits to low carbon investments ahead of Paris talks’, 23 November 2015, http://gofossilfree.org/uk/press-release/south-yorkshire-pension-fund-commits-to-low-carbon-investments-ahead-of-paris-talks/).
[3] https://new.eastsussex.gov.uk/jobs/workingateastsussexcountycouncil/pensions
[4] ‘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 2014/15 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.
[5] ‘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.

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