LETTER: County council should divest

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According to a spokesperson for East Sussex County Council, the East Sussex Pension Fund – which currently has an estimated £172 million worth of local people’s pensions invested in the oil, coal and gas industries – ‘should continue to seek to use its influence as a corporate investor to positively influence companies’ behaviour’, rather than divest from these dirty and financially risky fuels (Calls for county council to stop fossil fuel investment, September 23, 2016).

Unfortunately, decades of such ‘engagement’ with the likes of Shell, BP and Exxon have not succeeded in achieving any meaningful steps towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions or altering these companies business models.

Indeed, after over 35 years of ‘enagagement’, Exxon – in whom the East Sussex Pension Fund currently has some £4.3 million of local people’s pensions invested – is still spending £27m a year delaying and obstructing climate legislation.

Likewise, in 2015 Chevron – in whom the Fund has £3.9 million invested - emphatically rejected a shareholder resolution to reallocate capital from exploration for new resources to higher dividends.

This despite the fact that scientists have estimated that at least half of the world’s current proven fossil fuel reserves will have to remain unburned if we are to have a 50 per cent 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.

If the county council wants to do the responsible thing – both for local pension holders and future generations – it should follow the example of Waltham Forest Council, and many other institutions around the world, and divest.

Gabriel Carlyle

Ellenslea Road

St Leonards

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