Divest East SussexThe campaign to persuade the East Sussex County Council Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels continues. Because of Covid 19, we have had to suspend direct action for the time being. However, we did hold an online demonstration involving the theme of chickens coming home to roost and portraying the Chair of the Pension Committee, Councillor Gerard Fox, in his foxy role.

Divest East Sussex

In August, campaigners held a world record attempt for the ‘most people to attend a Zoom protest wearing a chicken mask’, calling for ESCC to divest out of fossil fuels

That was not only a bit of fun but did get a reaction from Councillor Fox though regrettably not an immediate agreement to divest. Subsequently, however, the Committee did agree to move 50% of its investments away from fossil fuels so the pressure has had some success.

Council response

To continue the campaign we have organised multiple questions from members of the public at full Council meetings. Consequently, at the Council meeting on 13 October there were 133 questions on the subject of divestment.

To avoid answering each question individually Councillor Fox gave a long rambling response explaining what the committee was doing and why. He failed however to answer the three most crucial questions. Specifically, Councillor Fox:

  • FAILED to either accept or deny the impossibility of achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global temperature rises within 1.5 °C of pre-industrial levels without ‘the rapid alignment of the big fossil fuel companies with a 1.5°C pathway’
  • FAILED to ‘give a single example of an oil or gas major that is currently aligned with a 1.5°C pathway’, while also failing to acknowledge the fact that no such companies exist
  • FAILED to provide any indication of when the East Sussex Pension Fund would divest from those oil and gas companies that don’t align themselves with a 1.5°C pathway.

But the pressure in the wider world for investors to divest out of fossil fuels is hotting up. David Attenborough has stated “It’s crazy that our banks and our pensions are investing in fossil fuel, when these are the very things that are jeopardising the future that we are saving for.”

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams called on UK universities to follow the example of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and end their multi-million pound investments in fossil fuels. Pope Francis has urged people to pull investments from companies that are not committed to protecting the environment.

Campaigners took five years to persuade Magdalene College to divest. KIIGL and Divest East Sussex have upcoming plans to try to achieve their goal in a shorter period.

Join a Zoom on Monday 9 November

Divest East Sussex are holding a Zoom drop-in on Monday 9 November (7 – 8pm) where you can find out more about their latest plans to get East Sussex County Council Pension Fund to divest, including what YOU can do to help make this happen. To find out more and register, go to Divest East Sussex