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Local residents get their message across to Hastings Borough Council

Unanimous fossil fuel divestment vote passed by Labour and Conservative Hastings councillors

Hastings Borough Council became the first council in Sussex to pass a fossil fuel divestment motion last night, with Labour and Tory councillors uniting to pass the motion unanimously.

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

The motion’s 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.” 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.”

During the debate, council leader Peter Chowney (Labour) said: “I think that as public bodies it is important that we recognise the absolute critical nature of climate change…I hope many councils will adopt motions like this.'”Conservative group leader Liam Atkins said: “It is difficult to argue with the following quote from Desmond Tutu: ‘It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet.’ ”

To date over 500 institutions representing over $3 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the World Council of Churches, Oxford City Council, the British Medical Association and the City of Oslo.

John Enefer, a spokesperson for the Fossil Free Hastings group, said: “We welcome the fact that Hastings councillors have set aside party differences to do the right thing, with a united call to East Sussex County Council to rid itself of its £172m of investments in the oil, coal and gas industries. These investments pose a threat to the climate and to local people’s pensions, and so ditching them isn’t – and shouldn’t be – a party political issue. We urge other institutions that run their pensions through the East Sussex Pension Fund – such as the East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Bexhill Academy and the University of Brighton – to follow Hastings Borough Council’s lead, and help to build pressure on the County Council to divest from fossil fuels.”

The vote was also attended by campaigners from further afield in East Sussex. Patricia Patterson Vanegas from Climate Forest Row said: “I was very inspired to see Fossil Free Hastings moving forward in their campaign which will most definitely inform our own strategy.”

 

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Posted 10:38 Thursday, Apr 14, 2016 In: Campaigns

2 Comments

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. David Woolf

    As a fossil, I’m not sure I approve.

    Comment by David Woolf — Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016 @ 19:16

  2. Joseph ridsdale

    This is seriously the best news I’ve had in ages. We all need to unite to slow climate change. Labour and conservatives working together at this time is an inspiration to all.
    Thank you all.

    Comment by Joseph ridsdale — Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 @ 21:05

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