Fossil Free Hastings’ protest over oil and gas investment

Members of Fossil Free Hastings pose outside Hastings Weather Station with a copy of the WMO report. The graph shows global temperature changes since 1880

Members of Fossil Free Hastings pose outside Hastings Weather Station with a copy of the WMO report. The graph shows global temperature changes since 1880

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Campaigners from across the county have sent a copy of the World Metereological Organisation’s (WMO) latest report to the chairman of the East Sussex Pension Committee, highlighting the impact of the committee’s investments in oil, coal and gas.

The committee, which met this week at County Hall in Lewes, manages the East Sussex Pension Fund which has an estimated £172m of people’s pensions invested in fossil fuels.

The letter to Councillor Richard Stogdon urges him to contact the Waltham Forest Pension Committee, which recently committed to divesting its £735m fund from fossil fuels, ‘to understand what steps [the latter] are taking to make good on this commitment, with a view to replicating them here in East Sussex’.

The WMO report, The Global Climate 2011 – 2015, notes ‘the period 2011–2015 was the warmest five-year period on record’.

Emily Johns, Fossil Free Hastings spokesman, said: “We believe there is a strong financial case for the committee to divest people’s pensions from oil, coal and gas companies, because of the financial risks associated with such investments. However, the WMO report also clearly shows the damaging effects these investments are having on the balance of the earth’s climate. We urge all East Sussex residents to visit tinyurl.com/eastsussexdivest and add their names to the petition calling for the county council to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund of its investments in the coal, oil and gas industries.”

A spokesman for the East Sussex Pension Fund said: “Money from the fund is invested in areas which generate the best return with consideration for the level of risk every investment poses. Investments are regularly reviewed taking into account a number of factors. Divesting of assets in the energy sector would mean the fund’s ability to influence the direction of individual companies and the national and international energy sector would be severely curtailed.”

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