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Divestment campaigners greet the newly-elected Councillors on their way into County Hall in Lewes, 25 May 2021. Photo: Fran Witt

Council meeting rejects fresh proposal to divest local pensions from fossil fuels

On Monday 12 July, at a meeting in County Hall, Lewes, the East Sussex Pension Committee rejected a fresh proposal to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund from the fossil fuel companies that are driving the climate crisis. The proposal was rejected by 3 votes to 2, with Cllrs David Tutt (Lib Dem, Eastbourne – St Anthony’s) and Julia Hilton (Green, Old Hastings & Tressell) voting in favour of full divestment, and the three Conservative Councillors – Gerard Fox (Hailsham New Town), Paul Redstone (Northern Rother) and Sam Adeniji (Seaford North) – voting against it.



The East Sussex Pension Fund – the local government pension scheme for East Sussex, Brighton and Hove, which is administered by ESCC – still has tens of millions of local people’s pensions invested in the oil and gas majors like Shell and BP.

Though ESCC declared a ‘climate emergency’ in October 2019, the Pension Committee has consistently blocked calls to divest the £4.2bn Fund from fossil fuels. Hastings Borough Council, Lewes Town and District Councils and Brighton and Hove City Council have all called for the Fund to divest from fossil fuels, as have UNISON and local MPs Maria Caulfield (Conservative, Lewes) and Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion).

Mass ‘Attenborough-in’ outside County Hall planned for Friday 23 July

Campaigners will be holding a mass ‘Attenborough-in’ outside County Hall on Friday 23 July, the date of ESCC’s next Full Council meeting, to draw attention to the Fund’s continued failure to call time on the fossil fuel industry. In his film ‘David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet’, Attenborough says: “It’s crazy that our banks and our pensions are investing in fossil fuel, when these are the very things that are jeopardising the future that we are saving for.”

Gabriel Carlyle, speaking on behalf of the Divest East Sussex campaign said: ‘Failure to limit global warming to 1.5°C will have catastrophic impacts for our planet and its people, as well as on the East Sussex Pension Fund. Yet despite this, the fossil fuel companies that are driving this crisis have been forecast to spend trillions of dollars over the next decade on new oil and gas fields – none of which is compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

“Divesting the East Sussex Pension Fund from fossil fuel companies would send a powerful signal to policymakers to finally get serious about tackling the climate emergency, which will require the rapid phasing out of fossil fuels. By clinging on to its investments in fossil fuel companies, the East Sussex Pension Fund is missing a huge opportunity to show real leadership on the climate crisis. It’s time for ESCC to commit to fully divesting the East Sussex Pension Fund from fossil fuels.”

If you don’t approve of East Sussex County Council’s blasé attitude to climate change, then join the mass ‘Attenborough-in’ outside County Hall in Lewes from 8.30–10 am on Friday 23 July. Contact divesteastsussex@gmail.com to find out more and to register your support.

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Posted 21:33 Wednesday, Jul 14, 2021 In: Campaigns

1 Comment

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  1. Paul Foster

    We are facing a climate emergency and it is key that political parties of every colour do what they can to support measures that will reduce our dependency on carbon.

    However, I do find it slightly hypocritical that Cllr Hilton is prepared to support the proposal outlined in this article, yet along with the Labour party at Hastings Borough Council rejected a motion put forward to introduce reduced parking permits for electric cars in the borough. This is despite her own party having a 50% reduction for electric car parking for residents living in the Brighton and Hove City region.

    It would appear that for some, the climate is only an emergency if it fits your political agenda at a given time.

    Comment by Paul Foster — Friday, Jul 23, 2021 @ 09:05

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