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In 2016, local residents got Hastings Borough Council to become the first local authority in East Sussex to support the call for the East Sussex Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels

Hastings needs a Fossil Fuel Treaty!

Hastings Borough Council could be about to become the fifth local council in the UK to endorse the call for a Fossil Fuel Treaty – an international treaty to phase out fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas). Gabriel Carlyle from Divest East Sussex explains what this means and why it matters.

There’s a well known saying that if you’re in a hole you should stop digging. But the world is currently in a massive hole caused by our continued reliance on the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) – and we’re still digging.

Burning fossil fuels is the main driver of climate change.

And that means that avoiding catastrophic climate change, by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC, will require massive reductions in the carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels before 2030.

Indeed, according to an analysis by Carbon Brief, if we take a precautionary approach and don’t assume the future existence of technologies capable of sucking carbon dioxide out of the air on a colossal scale (which may not materialise), then coal use needs to plummet by 79% (from 2019 levels) over the next ten years, while emissions from oil and gas must fall by 44% and 39% respectively.

Yet, the words ‘fossil fuels’ aren’t even mentioned in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and a recent report from the Stockholm Environment Institute found that the ‘the world’s governments plan to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C’.

And that includes the UK Government.

Indeed, even though the International Energy Agency (IEA) has made it clear that developing any new fossil fuels is incompatible with reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, fossil fuel companies are planning to launch at least 40 new coal, oil and gas extraction projects in the United Kingdom over the next few years.

According to Friends of the Earth: ‘If approved, the combined greenhouse gas emissions from these projects would reach 1.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is nearly three times the annual greenhouse gas emissions of the entire UK.’

A Fossil Free Treaty

A Fossil Fuel Treaty would be an agreement to end all new fossil fuel exploration and production, phase out existing stockpiles of fossil fuels in line with 1.5ºC, and fast-track a just and peaceful transition to safer and cleaner alternatives.

The idea draws inspiration from similar treaties that were used to successfully phase out the production of ozone-depleting chemicals and (largely) prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The call for a Fossil Fuel Treaty has already been endorsed by over 100 Nobel laureates, as well as by 32 cities and sub-national governments, including the cities of Los Angeles, Dhulikhel (in Nepal) and Toronto, and Lewes Town Council.

A motion endorsing the call for such a treaty has been tabled by Hastings Borough Councillor Sabina Arthur (Labour, Braybrooke) and should be voted on at the Borough Council’s next Full Council meeting on Wednesday 9 February, COVID regulations permitting.

Join Divest East Sussex outside Muriel Matters House at 5.15pm on Wed 9 February

Remind Hastings Borough Council of its 2016 motion to divest

In April 2016, Hastings became the first local authority in East Sussex to agree a motion calling on the East Sussex Pension Fund to divest local people’s pensions from fossil fuels. (The East Sussex Pension Fund is the local government pension scheme covering East Sussex, Brighton and Hove.) You can read the Hastings Online Times article about it here.

That vote was unanimous, and local campaign Divest East Sussex is now asking members of the public to email their Councillors before the vote on 9 February and urge them to back the call for a Fossil Fuel Treaty.

One of the main points of agreeing such a motion is to spread the word and popularise the idea of a Fossil Fuel Treaty – so Councillors and supporters are invited to come and join a ‘Make Fossil Fuels History’ photocall outside Muriel Matters House at 5.15pm on the day of the vote (Wednesday 9 February). So join us if you can. Hastings – and everyone else – needs a Fossil Fuel Treaty! You can find more information about the event on the Divest East Sussex website.

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Posted 19:45 Monday, Jan 31, 2022 In: Campaigns

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