East Sussex Campaigners join global week of actions against fossil fuel companies

Press release
Divest East Sussex [1]
16 May 2017

EAST SUSSEX CAMPAIGNERS JOIN GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTIONS AGAINST FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES
Actions in Brighton, Hastings & Forest Row part of 260 actions in 45 countries

5 – 13 May 2017, Brighton, Hastings & Forest Row: Campaigners from across East Sussex took part in a global week of action against the fossil fuel industries (oil, coal and gas) last week, with events in Hastings, Brighton and Forest Row.

In total over 260 actions took place in 45 countries around the world [2].

In East Sussex: Brighton campaigners, who were joined by local MP Caroline Lucas, held two ‘petition parties’ on 6 and 13 May, collecting hundreds of signatures for the petition to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund from fossil fuels [4]; Hastings residents held a New Orleans-style jazz band funeral parade for fossil fuels in Hastings Old Town on 13 May [5]; and in Forest Row on 12 May, local residents organised a screening of the film ‘Tomorrow’, which looks at ways in which people across the world are creating positive solutions to the environmental and social challenges of the twenty-first century.

A young campaigners in Hastings joins the fossil fuels’ parade, 13 May 2017

Around the world: In the Philippines, communities in Bataan directly affected by a local coal plant formed a human chain calling for divestment. Indigenous peoples and fishermen disrupted an oil and gas auction in Rio de Janeiro to speak out against investments in fossil fuels. 150 activists rallied inside Trump Tower, to call on New York City officials to cut their ties with the oil and gas companies that control the White House. Meanwhile, three European cities divested, and hundreds of students at Hoa Sen University in Ho Chi Minh City and Cape Town challenged their universities to divest.

The events were all held to highlight the decades-long role that fossil fuel companies have played in driving the climate crisis and delaying action on climate change [6]. They also urged local institutions – such as the East Sussex Pension Fund – to ditch their investments in these industries. Investments in fossil fuels have become increasingly controversial, with over 685 institutions in 76 countries,  managing assets worth  more than $5 trillion, making some form of divestment commitment since 2012 [7].

The East Sussex Pension Fund – which is administered by the County Council and holds the pensions for a wide range of organisations from across East Sussex – is estimated to have over £172m invested in the fossil fuels [8]. Three members of the Fund – Hastings Borough Council, Lewes Town Council and Brighton and Hove City Council – have already passed motions calling on the Fund to divest from fossil fuels [9].

Arnold Simanowitz, a spokesperon for Divest East Sussex, said: “Investments in fossil fuels are not only damaging the balance of the earth’s climate, but also pose a serious financial risk to investors. It is therefore the responsible and the prudent thing to do to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund from these dirty and risky fuels. We urge all East Sussex residents to support the call for fossil fuel divestment by visiting http://tinyurl.com/esccdivest and adding their names to the Divest East Sussex petition.”

The fossil fuels jazz band funeral in Hastings Old Town, 13 May 2017

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), Climate Forest Row and Keep It In the Ground Lewes.
[2] https://globaldivestmentmobilisation.org
[3] See http://act.350.org/event/gdd2017_attend/13683 and http://act.350.org/event/gdd2017/13684/
[4] https://campaigns.gofossilfree.org/petitions/divest-east-sussex-pension-fund-from-fossil-fuels
[5] https://fossilfreehastings.wordpress.com
[6] See for example, ‘ExxonMobil gave millions to climate-denying

MP Caroline Lucas joins campaigners in Brighton, 13 May 2017

lawmakers despite pledge’, Guardian, 15 July 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/15/exxon-mobil-gave-millions-climate-denying-lawmakers and ‘An investor enquiry: how much big oil spends on climate lobbying’, Influence Map, April 2016, https://influencemap.org/report/Climate-Lobbying-by-the-Fossil-Fuel-Sector. As at the end of the 2013/14 financial year, the East Sussex Pension Fund had £4.3m of local people’s pensions invested in Exxon. See https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19OSrcE1GsWqvA8T56v0RC0IwXcnDhFuWm3UnMjsWb8E/edit#gid=1078204141
[7] https://350.org/big-divestment-news/
[8] ‘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/. In 2015, based on data collected through Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) to administering authorities for the 2013/14 financial year, it was estimated that the East Sussex Pension Fund had £172m invested in fossil fuels. This figure included 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?usp=drivesdk
[9] ‘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. ‘Lewes Town Council calls for East Sussex Pension Fund to ditch its investments in oil, coal and gas’, 7 March 2017, https://fossilfreehastings.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/lewes-town-council-calls-for-east-sussex-pension-fund-to-ditch-its-investments-in-oil-coal-and-gas. ‘Brighton Council calls for East Sussex Pension Fund to ditch fossil fuels’, 6 April 2017, https://fossilfreehastings.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/brighton-council-calls-for-east-sussex-pension-fund-to-ditch-fossil-fuels.

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