Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

The two elves pulling a fossil fuel cracker in George Street. Photograph © Sharon Rhodes

Don’t be (s)elf-ish – PULL our investments in fossil fuels!

Last week, HOT’s Erica Smith dressed up and helped carry a giant cracker around town – appealing to local people and East Sussex County Council (ESCC) to see sense and realise that it’s crackers to invest in fossil fuels. This is her story…

On 9 December this year, New York State’s pension fund pledged to withdraw all its investment in fossil fuel industries by 2025 – you can read about it in the Financial Times. It took eight years of campaigning for this small victory. Gabriel Carlyle’s recent HOT article looks at the Divest East Sussex campaign over the last seven years and gives the background to the cross-County campaigning to lobby the County Council to divest (or ‘disinvest’) from fossil fuel investments which fund the council’s pension scheme.

I have been one of many people involved in the campaign from the beginning. I continue to campaign because I honestly don’t understand why ESCC don’t address the damage that this investment in fossil fuels is doing. Divestment would be such a simple and strong statement to show genuine commitment to stopping climate change.

Since Covid-19, the Divest East Sussex campaign has been unable to continue with mass campaigning, so other avenues have been explored. Last week, I dressed as an elf and, with the aid of a giant cracker to enable social distance and visibility and a (s)elfie stick, myself and fellow elf ‘Bushy Evergreen’ walked across town to deliver a letter to Cllr Keith Glazier, resident of Fairlight and Leader of East Sussex County Council. The letter explained how crackers it is to invest in fossil fuels.

The text of the letter is below. If you agree with it, please copy and paste the text into an email and send it to:

Dear Cllr Glazier,

Global warming is having a profound effect on the Arctic and its peoples.

The warmest temperatures since 1900 have all now occurred within the past seven years. This year we’ve seen the collapse of Canada’s last intact ice shelf, the hottest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle (100.4°F in Verkhoyansk) and vast wildfires engulf large parts of Siberia. Representatives from the Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic (SILA) tell us that they ‘are seeing warming of the land that sustains all life at two times the rate of the rest of the world, endangering basic needs as the climate crisis worsens.’

These changes won’t stay in the Arctic. They are a warning siren for the world.

With less than a year to go before next year’s crucial UN climate summit in Glasgow, we need all of the world’s institutions – local, regional, national and international – to be showing leadership on the climate crisis. And as David Attenborough has noted: ‘It’s crazy that our banks and our pensions are investing in fossil fuels, when these are the very things that are jeopardising the future that we are saving for.’

So it’s time for East Sussex County Council to stop investing in the fossil fuel companies that are driving the climate crisis and to start investing in the creation of a thriving and sustainable future for all.

As Baroness Hayman has recently noted: ‘Pensions trustees and investors can and should make a game-changing contribution by re-directing the $2.9tn in pension funds, our money, into companies who will bring about an environmentally sustainable and prosperous future.’

Wishing you a low-carbon Christmas and a fully divested 2021,

Bushy Evergreen & Sugarplum Mary

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Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 22:15 Wednesday, Dec 23, 2020 In: Campaigns

1 Comment

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  1. Rod

    I think your article is an excellent way to bring it to East Sussex Council. I’m from West Sussex & we’re experiencing similar problem with our council. Best of luck with the campaign for 2021, hope your councilors see sense

    Comment by Rod — Tuesday, Dec 29, 2020 @ 09:18

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