The following motion was passed by Lewes Town Council on 2 March 2017. The vote was unanimous, with the exception of one Councillor who abstained owing to a potential conflict of interest. Thanks to Cllr Susan Murray for providing Divest East Sussex with a copy of the motion.

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ESCC Fossil Fuel Divestment

Lewes Town Council supports a Responsible Investment Policy that addresses serious climate change concerns by divesting from any funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years. It is concerned that the East Sussex Pension Fund in which LTC members of staff are enrolled has yet to address such a policy that would minimise climate change risk and reduce the council’s carbon footprint.

Lewes Town Council therefore resolves to:-

Call on both East Sussex County Council and East Sussex Pension Fund to:

  • divest from fossil fuels by developing and adopting Responsible Investment Policies that take into account climate change by divesting from fossil fuel-based funds.
  • work with other District and town councils in East Sussex to lobby the ESCC Pension Fund Committee to adopt Responsible Investment Policies.NOTES

    East Sussex County Council has an estimated £172 million invested in.fossil fuels – a threat to LTC pensions.

    1. Investing in the fossil fuel industry is damaging the balance of the climate.To maintain a stable climate, we have to rapidly cutback on the fossil fuels we burn. Known fossil fuel reserves contain several times more coal, oil and gas than can safely be burned, but fossil fuel companies plan to use all these reserves and invest huge sums exploring for more.

    2. Investing in fossil fuels is financially risky. Many establishment figures are warning us that fossil fuels could become the sub-prime assets of the future. The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that the vast majority of reserves are likely to be unburnable and has launched a major enquiry into this risk. Similarly, the President and the former Chief Economist of the World Bank and the UN’s top climate change official have issued warnings that investments in fossil fuels could suffer dramatic losses in value. In 2015 HSBC advised its clients against investing in fossil fuel companies on the grounds that they will become “economically unviable.”

    3. But the good news is that divestment removes exposure to these financial risks and sends a strong message to politicians and the industry that we urgently need to change how energy is generated and used. All over the world people are urging their institutions to “divest” (move their money away) from these damaging and financially risky fuels.

    4. Organisations that have already joined the UN-backed divestment campaign include: the cities of Oslo, Seattle, San Francisco and Oxford; Glasgow University; the British Medical Association; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the World Council of Churches and the Quaker movement. More locally Hastings Borough Council has passed a motion in favour of Responsible Investment and calling upon the ESCC Pension Fund to divest.

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