Campaigners send climate report to East Sussex Pension Committee

CAMPAIGNERS SEND CLIMATE REPORT TO EAST SUSSEX PENSION COMMITTEE
Committee urged to make contact with London Pension Fund that is ditching its investments in oil, coal and gas

Campaigners from around East Sussex have sent a copy of the World Metereological Organisation (WMO)’s latest report to the chair of the East Sussex Pension Committee, highlighting the impact of the Committee’s investments in oil, coal and gas on the earth’s climate.

The Committee, which meets this week [30 November] at County Hall in Lewes, manages the East Sussex Pension Fund which has an estimated £172m of local people’s pensions invested in fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) [2]. The letter to the Committee’s chair, Councillor Richard Stogdon, urges him to contact the Waltham Forest Pension Committee – which recently committed to divesting its £735m Fund from fossil fuels [3] – ‘to understand what steps [the latter] are taking to make good on this commitment, with a view to replicating them here in East Sussex.’

The WMO report, The Global Climate 2011 – 2015, notes that ‘the period 2011–2015 was the warmest  five-year period on record, consistent with established long-term warming trends due to rising levels of greenhouse gases.’ [4] The WMO anticipates that 2016 will be the hottest year on record. [5] If so then 16 of the 17 hottest years ever recorded will have been in this century. [5] The WMO report also notes that ‘many individual extreme weather and climate events recorded during 2011–2015’ – such as the East African drought and famine in 2011–2012 that is estimated to have claimed over 250,000 lives, and ‘Superstorm’ Sandy, which caused $67bn of damage in the US in 2012 – ‘had their likelihood of occurring substantially enhanced by human-induced climate change.’ [6]

Divest East Sussex spokesperson Emily Johns, said: ‘We believe that there is a strong financial case for the East Sussex Pension Committee to divest local people’s pensions from oil, coal and gas companies, because of the financial risks associated with such investments. However, the WMO report also clearly shows the damaging effects that these investments are having on the balance of the earth’s climate. We urge all East Sussex residents to visit tinyurl.com/eastsussexdivest and add their names to the petition calling for the East Sussex County Council to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund of its investments in the coal, oil and gas industries.’

Brighton-based fossil free campaigner Annie Pickering said: ‘It would be great to see the East Sussex pension fund divest and join the growing global movement to reduce funds for environmentally damaging companies and build an alternative that is not reliant on environmentally destructive energy practices, such as the burning of coal, oil and gas.’

Arnold Simanowitz from Keep It In The Ground  Lewes added: ‘We are part of the growing movement in East Sussex which is working towards persuading East Sussex County Council to join the increasing number of councils and other bodies in Britain that have resolved to divest themselves of their investments in fossil fuels.’

NOTES

[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] ‘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 and £4.3m figures are 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. See https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19OSrcE1GsWqvA8T56v0RC0IwXcnDhFuWm3UnMjsWb8E/edit#gid=1078204141
[3] Worth £735 million, the London Borough of Waltham Forest pension fund has agreed to divest itself of its £23.9 million worth of investments in the oil, coal and gas industries. See ‘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/
[4] The Global Climate 2011 – 2015, World Metereological Organisation, 8 November 2016, page 3, http://ane4bf-datap1.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wmocms/s3fs-public/1179_EN.pdf?WevaJ8QIS5ntCjcWd7OYyZfhIDKuews9
[5] ‘Provisional WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2016’, 14 November 2016, http://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/provisional-wmo-statement-status-of-global-climate-2016
[6] The Global Climate 2011 – 2015, World Metereological Organisation, 8 November 2016, pages 3 and 26, http://ane4bf-datap1.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wmocms/s3fs-public/1179_EN.pdf?WevaJ8QIS5ntCjcWd7OYyZfhIDKuews9

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