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Hastings campaigners get ready to board the Big Lemon Bus to tour East Sussex

Big Lemon Bus tour takes the divestment message across East Sussex

Campaigners collect over 640 signatures for petition urging County Council to make local government pension scheme fossil free

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The Big Lemon Bus and passengers

Last Saturday, a group of East Sussex residents set off from Hastings and visited Bexhill, Hailsham, Eastbourne, Seaford, Crowborough and Uckfield in a bus powered by waste cooking oil, during a one-day tour to publicise the campaign to persuade East Sussex County Council to stop investing local people’s pension monies in fossil fuels (oil, coal & gas).

Equipped with their own mobile bus stop and traditionally-dressed bus conductor, the campaigners collected over 640 signatures for the ‘Divest East Sussex’ petition bringing the current total to over 2,500. They also distributed copies of a ‘Global Waming Time Table’ with the message: ‘Don’t Miss the Bus on Climate Change: Make Pensions Fossil Free.’

Investments in fossil fuels have become increasingly controversial, with over 680 institutions in 76 countries, managing assets worth more than $5 trillion, making some form of divestment commitment since 2012. UK public pension funds lost nearly £700m during 2014/15 when the value of their investments in the coal industry plummeted.

A seaford resident signs up

A seaford resident signs up

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 at least £150m invested in fossil fuels [6]. 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.

Julia Hilton from Divest East Sussex said: ‘We’ve already seen global warming of over 1 degree centigrade, and the resulting climate change is now leading to increasingly severe impacts: from rapidly melting sea-ice at the poles to 50 degree heatwaves in India and the UK experiencing increasingly severe flooding. East Sussex County Council (ESCC) currently has £150m of local people’s pension monies invested in fossil fuels. These investments not only contribute to global warming but also pose a growing financial risk for local people’s pensions. ESCC should follow the lead of other UK Councils, such as Waltham Forest and Southwark, and commit to ridding itself of these investments over the next five years.’

Bus tour participant Gabriel Carlyle from Hastings (below, on the right) said: ‘It was great to meet and talk with people from across East Sussex who recognise that investing in fossil fuels is risky, unnecessary and a disaster for the climate. We urge people to sign the ‘Divest East Sussex’ petition and help send a strong message to the County Council that it’s time to stop funding the problem and start funding the solutions, like renewable energy and energy efficiency.’

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Posted 19:29 Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017 In: Campaigns

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