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From Divest East Sussex’s ‘Thunberg-in’ protest aggainst ESCC’s fossil fuel pension investsments (photo: DES).

Pension questions for ESCC

East Sussex County Council faces questions from more than 80 people about its pension fund’s investments in fossil fuel companies. Research has found none of the fossil fuel companies have policies that are aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Nick Terdre reports.

In a campaign led by Divest East Sussex (DES), each person has tabled the same three questions for the Full Council meeting of East Sussex County Council on Tuesday 13 October, asking when its pension fund will divest from oil and gas companies that fail to align themselves with a 1.5°C pathway; whether it will acknowledge that the goals of the Paris climate change agreement cannot be achieved without the rapid alignment of the big fossil fuel companies with a 1.5°C pathway; and whether it can give a single example of an oil or gas major aligned with a 1.5°C pathway.

As reported to the September meeting of the Pension Committee, the East Sussex Pension Fund had £152.2m invested in fossil fuel companies as  of 30 June.

This is the second time DES supporters have subjected the council to intense questioning: 241 questions regarding its oil and gas investments were tabled for its July meeting, but “The Council failed to provide substantive answers,” and refused to take supplementary questions, the group said.

In support of its divestment policy, DES quotes “comprehensive analysis” from campaign group Oil Change International published last month, which found that “not a single climate plan released by a major oil company comes close to aligning with  the urgent 1.5°C global warming limit.”

Window closing

“The window for limiting global warming to 1.5°C – and thereby avoiding the most calamitous impacts of climate change – is rapidly closing,” a spokesperson for Divest East Sussex said. “Moreover, doing this will require dramatic cuts in emissions from oil and gas over the next ten years.

“Yet despite decades of ‘engagement’ – and much greenwash aimed at fooling people into thinking otherwise – not a single oil and gas major is currently anywhere near aligning with this goal.

“For the Council to continue pursuing a toothless – and seemingly endless – policy of ‘engagement’ with these companies after itself declaring a ‘climate emergency’ is pure hypocrisy. The time is long overdue for ESCC to follow the lead of other local councils, like Southwark and Waltham Forest, and commit to divesting from fossil fuels.”

Again according to the report to the September meeting of the Pension Committee, DES noted, the committee uses “data from the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), to engage alongside our collaborative partners to encourage companies to adopt business models and strategies that are in line with the aims of the Paris agreements.”

In an assessment published last week, TPI, another campaign group, found that none of 59 large publicly-listed fossil fuel companies that it examined were “yet on track to align their emissions with a 2°C climate pathway by 2050,” let alone 1.5°C.

The Full Council meeting starts at 10am on Tuesday 13 October. You can watch a webcast of the meeting live, or after the event by following this link.

Posted 21:39 Monday, Oct 12, 2020 In: Campaigns

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