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ESCC urged to accept link between fossil fuels and climate change


Over 90 members of the public from across the country have called on East Sussex County Council (ESCC) to tell the truth about climate and fossil fuels, re-submitting three key questions on climate change to the ESCC Full Council meeting on 1 December. These same questions went unanswered at October’s Full Council meeting [1].

 Report from Divest East Sussex [2].

The questions, which concern the Council’s continued investment in fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), ask the Council:

  1. to acknowledge that ‘because burning fossil fuels is the key driver of global warming, the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement (to keep global warming to ‘well below 2 °C’, pursuing 1.5°C) cannot be achieved without the rapid alignment of the big fossil fuel companies with a 1.5°C pathway’;
  2. to ‘give a single example of an oil or gas major that is currently aligned with a 1.5°C pathway’; and
  3. to say when the East Sussex Pension Fund will divest from those oil and gas companies that fail to align themselves with a 1.5°C pathway [3].

As at 30 June, the East Sussex Pension Fund – which is the Local Government Pension Scheme for Brighton and Hove as well as East Sussex – had some £152.2m of local people’s pension monies invested in fossil fuels[4].

In his new film David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, David Attenborough says: “It’s crazy that our banks and our pensions are investing in fossil fuels, when these are the very things that are jeopardising the future that we are saving for.” [5]

The window for limiting global warming to 1.5°C – and thereby avoiding the most calamitous impacts of climate change – is rapidly closing. Moreover, doing this will require dramatic cuts in emissions from oil and gas over the next ten years. [6]

Yet despite decades of ‘engagement’ with fossil fuel companies – 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 [7].

For East Sussex County Council to continue pursuing a failed, toothless – and seemingly endless – policy of ‘engagement’ with these companies after itself declaring a ‘climate emergency’ [8] is pure hypocrisy. For it to have ducked accountability to the public by failing to answer simple questions about this policy is outrageous.

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.

NOTES

[1] https://divesteastsussex.wordpress.com/2020/10/13/0-3-county-council-ducks-key-questions-on-climate/
[2] https://divesteastsussex.wordpress.com
[3] For the full text see https://divesteastsussex.wordpress.com/2020/10/25/tell-the-truth-about-climate-change-fossil-fuels-email-your-question-to-esccs-next-full-council-meeting-by-23-november

[4] See page 14 of https://democracy.eastsussex.gov.uk/documents/g4449/Public%20reports%20pack%2021st-Sep-2020%2009.00%20Pension%20Committee.pdf?T=10
[5] See clip here: https://twitter.com/GeoffreySupran/status/1314566184902238209
[6] The IPCC’s 2018 report ‘Global Warming of 1.5 ºC’ included four illustrative 1.5°C pathways. The most precautionary (P1) avoids reliance on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, a technology created within climate models that is untested at scale and faces significant feasibility constraints. According to an analysis by Carbon Brief to cut emissions in line with the IPCC’s P1 illustrative pathway, relative to 2019 levels: (a) CO2 emissions from oil must fall by 44 percent by 2030; and (b) CO2 emissions from gas must fall by 39 percent by 2030.The oil and gas decline would need to be even faster if the extremely rapid coal phase-out assumed (nearly 80 percent by 2030) does not prove feasible. See http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2020/09/OCI-Big-Oil-Reality-Check-vF.pdf, page 7 and https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-why-coal-use-must-plummet-this-decade-to-keep-global-warming-below-1-5c.
[7] See http://priceofoil.org/2020/09/23/big-oil-reality-check and  https://www.transitionpathwayinitiative.org/publications/60.pdf?type=Publication
[8] https://divesteastsussex.wordpress.com/2019/10/15/323/

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Posted 17:15 Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020 In: Local Government

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