By Juliet Oxborrow of TTL

Following a public petition, East Sussex County Council is set to debate whether the East Sussex Pension Fund should divest out of fossil fuels at its next full council meeting on Tuesday 15 October. Additionally – although it had not been confirmed at the time of going to press – ESCC is also expected to vote on declaring a climate emergency.

Anyone keen for the county council to take real action on climate change is invited to join a peaceful demonstration urging councillors entering the meeting to support both these issues. The protest will assemble at 9am on Tuesday 15 October, outside The Patch Cafe (19-21 Market St, Lewes, BN7 2NB) for a procession to County Hall. The meeting itself should begin at 10am and be over by lunchtime.

The call for divestment
The East Sussex Pension Fund – the pension scheme of public sector workers across the county – has an estimated £145 million – or 5% of its total portfolio – invested in oil and gas giants like Shell and BP, according to gofossilfree.org/uk…

Following a public petition by campaigning group Divest East Sussex, which attracted 5,300 signatures, the council is set to debate a motion at its next full meeting on 15 October whether to call on the pension fund to ‘divest’ (sell off) these holdings.

Divestment is being widely adopted by public bodies including universities, churches and a few councils, as a means to take action against fossil fuel companies. It is also seen to protect pension funds against the vast potential financial losses these companies face as the world moves towards clean energy. According to recent analysis by carbontracker.org: ‘Oil and gas companies risk wasting $2.2 trillion by 2030 if they base investment decisions on current emissions policies … instead of planning for continued momentum towards a low-carbon world and ensuing reduced demand for fossil fuels.’

Declaring a climate emergency

Although district and borough councils across East Sussex have made commitments to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 including Hastings, Lewes and Eastbourne, East Sussex County Council has yet to follow suit. Lewes District Green Party set up a petition urging the county council to take action.

Although this petition has so far attracted less than the 5,000 local resident signatures required to trigger a debate, ESCC are anticipated to take a vote on the issue at the full council meeting on 15 October.

Please join the demonstration on 15 October to urge county councillors to declare a climate emergency and commit to become carbon neutral by 2030.

To date, more than half of the UK’s 408 principal authorities have made climate emergency declarations.