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Local residents campaigning for fossil fuel divestment in Hastings Town Centre, February 2015

Local residents campaigning for fossil fuel divestment in Hastings Town Centre, February 2015

HBC motion tabled to divest from fossil fuels

Local campaigners from the group Fossil Free Hastings have welcomed the tabling of a motion that would commit Hastings Council to divesting itself of its investments in fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) – and are urging local people to contact their Councillors to support the motion. Gabriel Carlyle of Fossil Fuel Free Hastings writes.

If passed, the motion – which is scheduled to be voted on at the Borough Council’s full council meeting at 6pm on Wednesday 13 April in Hastings Town Hall – would make Hastings Council the first in Sussex to pass a divestment motion of this kind.

It would also become the first member of the East Sussex Pension Fund to call for the Fund to divest itself from fossil fuels. The East Sussex Pension Fund, which is administered by East Sussex County Council, currently has £172m of local people’s pensions invested in the oil, coal and gas industries. The £172m 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.

The motions’ preamble notes that ‘Scientists have estimated that at least half of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves will have to remain unburnt if we are to have a 50% or better chance of keeping global warming to less than two degrees Celsius – a dangerous threshold that world leaders at the 2009 Climate Summit recognised should not be crossed.’ [7]. It also notes that ‘As the investment risks associated with climate change are better understood, the fossil fuel reserves of energy companies could become ‘stranded assets‘ – assets with little or no value – representing a substantial risk for those that invest in them, including pension funds, organisations and individuals.’ HSBC has ‘warned that 40-60% of the market capitalisation of oil and gas companies [is] at risk’ from this so-called ‘carbon bubble’.

John Enefer, a spokesperon for Fossil Free Hastings, said: ‘The writing is on the wall for the fossil fuel industry – if we remain as dependent on it for our energy needs in the future, as we have been in the past, then we can look forward to a future of climate chaos in which last December’s floods will look like the good old days. The time is right to end our addiction to coal, oil and gas and to realise the full potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency. There is a growing global movement demanding change before it’s too late: with this divestment motion Hastings Council has an opportunity to be part of this movement and to be on the right side of history.’

The motion pledges Hastings Borough Council ‘to develop and implement a Responsible Investment Policy through which it will: (a) divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years; (b) set out an approach to quantifying and addressing climate change risks affecting all other investments’ and ‘(c) focus future investments in property and other assets on areas that minimise climate change risk and continue to reduce the council’s carbon footprint.’ It also commits Hastings Borough Council to call ‘on both East Sussex County Council and the East Sussex Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels by developing and adopting Responsible Investment Policies with the same scope.’

For the full text of the resolution see here.
Fossil Free Hastings website here.

Posted 21:03 Wednesday, Mar 30, 2016 In: Energy Wise

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