To: East Sussex County Council

Members of East Sussex Pension Fund Call for Divestment!

Members of East Sussex Pension Fund Call for Divestment!

[Note: please only sign this petition if you're a member of the East Sussex Pension Fund.
If you're not a member then please sign this petition instead - https://tinyurl.com/9x8fv2zm]

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) runs the local government pension scheme for East Sussex, Brighton and Hove: the East Sussex Pension Fund. The Fund manages the pensions of a wide range of people from these three areas, including many employees of ESCC, Hastings Borough Council, Brighton and Hove City Council, some local schools and Brighton University.

ESCC has declared a ‘climate emergency’ but continues to invest local people’s pensions in the giant fossil fuel (oil, coal & gas) companies that are driving the climate crisis. Moreover, these investments pose serious financial risks to the Fund.

Over 1,300 institutions across the world, representing over $14.5 trillion in assets, have already committed to divest (i.e. move their money away) from fossil fuel companies.

As members of the East Sussex Pension Fund, we call on East Sussex County Council to follow their lead and commit to divest our pension scheme from fossil fuels.

Why is this important?

Burning fossil fuels (oil, coal & gas) is the main driver of climate change.

Massive reductions in carbon emissions will be necessary before 2030 if the world’s governments are to follow through on their stated commitment (‘the Paris agreement’) to hold global warming to ‘well below’ 2ºC. Failure to do so would be truly disastrous.

In particular, the vast majority of proven reserves of fossil fuels will have to remain in the ground unburnt.

Yet despite this, in 2019 the oil and gas industries were forecast to spend $4.9 trillion over the next decade on new oil and gas fields - none of which is compatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

As of 31 December 2020, the East Sussex Pension Fund – the local government pension scheme for East Sussex, Brighton and Hove - had £76.4 million of local people's pensions invested in fossil fuels.

These investments not only threaten the climate, but also pose a significant financial danger to the Fund.

In 2015 the then-Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, warned that investors in these fossil fuels faced ‘potentially huge’ losses from climate change action that could make vast reserves of oil, coal and gas ‘literally unburnable’.

After coal demand peaked in 2014, UK public pension funds lost nearly a billion dollars as the value of their coal investments plummeted. Oil and gas are next.

And the Council’s policy of ‘engaging’ with fossil fuel companies simply isn’t working.

Indeed, despite many years of such ‘engagement’ not a single major oil company has yet re-aligned its business model with a 2ºC world, let alone a 1.5ºC one. And there are no precedents for a company changing its core business model following pressure from shareholders.

By getting institutions like the East Sussex Pension Fund to publicly commit to divesting from fossil fuels, we can help to undermine the political power of the fossil fuel companies that continue to block effective action on climate change by the world’s governments.

It’s time to divest from fossil fuels.

Who supports divesting the East Sussex Pension Fund?

- Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes
- Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion
- Hastings Borough Council
- Brighton & Hove City Council
- Lewes District Council
- Lewes Town Council
- UNISON (the public service union)

What else can I do?

(a) The Council has claimed that 'There’s no evidence that most [East Sussex Pension Fund] members or other stakeholders consider divestment from fossil fuel companies a pressing issue ...' Help prove them wrong by sending a short message to the Chair of the East Sussex Pension Committee, the decision-making body for the Fund. You can do this using our template text (which you can adapt as you see fit) here: https://act.350.org/letter/eastsussex

(b) Tell your friends, family and workmates about the campaign

(c) If you use social media then follow us on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/divesteastsussex] and / or Twitter [https://twitter.com/DivestEast] and share our posts.

(c) If you live of work in Brighton or Hove then please also sign this petition to East Sussex County Council demanding that Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) be granted adequate representation on the Pension Committee that controls the Fund (it currently has no representation at all): https://tinyurl.com/bhccrepresentation

East Sussex, UK

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