Brighton votes on fossil fuel divestment
Brighton and Hove City Council votes tomorrow – Thursday 6 April – on a motion calling on fossil fuel investments held by the East Sussex pension fund to be disposed of. Ahead of the meeting divestment campaigners will demonstrate in support of the motion outside Brighton Town Hall. Nick Terdre reports.
The demonstration is due to begin at 4pm with the city council meeting at 4.30pm. If the motion, which has been proposed by the Labour and Cooperative group of councillors, is passed, Brighton and Hove city council will become the third council in East Sussex to back the divestment of the pension fund from oil, gas and coal companies, following Hastings Borough Council and Lewes Town Council.
“Investments in fossil fuels are not only damaging the balance of the earth’s climate, but also pose a serious financial risk to investors,” said Arnold Simanowitz, a spokesperson for campaign group, Divest East Sussex.
Responsible and prudent
“It is therefore both responsible and prudent to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund from these dirty and risky fuels. We urge Brighton Councillors from all parties to support this motion.”
The motion calls for divested funds to be reinvested in “areas that minimize climate change and reduce the Fund’s carbon footprint; while ensuring the Fund continues to generate a sufficient level of return to ensure the current and future sustainability of the fund.”
A petition calling on the East Sussex Pension Committee, which administers the fund, to commit to divestment has been signed by over 1,200 people across the county.
East Sussex Pension Committee recently decided to amend the text of its new draft investment strategy statement to recognise that, “climate change poses material risks” to the pension fund which it manages.
The fund has an estimated £150 million invested in fossil fuels (the figure has been revised down from a previous £173 million – making an exact calculation is difficult, divestment group Fossil Free Hastings tells HOT).
Worldwide the divestment movement continues to gather force. According to campaign group 350.org, by the end of 2016 over 685 institutions in 76 countries, managing assets worth more than $5 trillion, had made some form of divestment commitment.
Go here to sign the Divest East Sussex petition.
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