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Climate TUG O’ WAR Photo Sarah Macbeth

Energy source tug o’war

Local residents staged a ‘Climate Tug Of War’ in the town centre, urging Hastings Borough Council to divest from oil, coal and gas investments and choose renewable, sustainable alternatives. The Tug Of War, between fossil fuel industries and the earth’s climate, was part of a new local campaign, Fossil Free Hastings, which aims to get East Sussex County Council (ESCC) to divest its £172 million of investments in the oil, coal and gas industries [1]. Here’s a report from Fossil Free Hastings.

Two teams – one dressed in black, the other in green – vied for the future of the planet’s atmosphere, while members of the public were encouraged to pick a side and show their support for their chosen team. Each team was egged on by its own spokesperson: Fossil Fool (representing the oil, coal and gas industries) and Di-vest, representing the earth’s climate. The action was part of a nationwide weekend of action organised by Fossil Free UK, which saw over 50 actions take place across the country from Penzance to Edinburgh.

Fossil Fuel Divestment TUG O' WAR team

Fossil Fuel Divestment TUG O’ WAR team Photo Sarah Macbeth

According to the current science, at least 80% of the world’s proven reserves of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) will need to remain in the ground if we are to have a reasonable chance of keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius [2] – a threshold that world leaders at the 2009 Climate Summit recognised should not be crossed [3].

Members of Fossil Free Hastings are calling on ESCC to immediately freeze all new direct investments in fossil fuel industries, and to commit to ridding itself of all of its current investments, direct and indirect, within the next five years. They are also calling on Hastings Borough Council – a contributor to the East Sussex Pension Fund to pass a divestment motion at its April meeting.

Local ESCC pension holder Karl Horton said: “East Sussex County Council currently has £172m of local people’s pensions invested in fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil). These investments will lose much of their value [4] when fossil fuel companies are compelled to leave 80% of their reserves in the ground – which they must be compelled to do if we’re to have any chance of preventing catastrophic climate change. We urge Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council to commit to ridding themselves of these investments, which are not only jeopardising our children’s future, but also putting local people’s pensions at risk.”

TUG O' WAR between fossil fuels and alternatives Photo Sarah MacBeth

TUG O’ WAR between fossil fuels and alternatives Photo Sarah Macbeth

[1] ‘REVEALED: UK Councils have £14 billion invested in fossil fuels’, Fossil Free UK, 24 September 2015. The £172 million figure is based on data collected through Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs) to administering authorities for the 2013/14 financial year. It includes direct equity holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies as well as estimated fossil fuel investments in pooled equity funds.

[2] Bill McKibben, ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math’, Rolling Stone Magazine, 19 July 2012.

[3] In the non-binding ‘Copenhagen Accord’ issued at the end of the 2009 UN Climate Summit (COP19), “The Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, and other heads of delegation present’ noted that, ‘To achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius … enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change.'” However, even the 2 degrees ‘target’ now appears to be much more dangerous than was previously believed.

[4] HSBC has “warned that 40-60% of the market capitalisation of oil and gas companies [is] at risk from the carbon bubble, with the top 200 fossil fuel companies alone having a current value of $4 trillion, along with $1.5 trillion debt.” ‘Carbon bubble will plunge the world into another financial crisis – report’, Guardian, 19 April 2013.

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Posted 09:35 Wednesday, Feb 17, 2016 In: Energy Wise

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