‘Historic’ vote on fossil fuel divestment in East Sussex

Residents campaigning for fossil fuel divestment in Hastings town centre

Residents campaigning for fossil fuel divestment in Hastings town centre

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Campaigners have described a vote on divestment from coal, oil and gas set to take place in East Sussex next week as ‘historic’.

Environmentalists from across the county will be gathering for Hastings Borough Council’s vote on Wednesday, April 13.

A spokesman for Fossil Free Hastings said the vote, which is scheduled to take place at the borough council’s full meeting at 6pm in Hastings Town Hall, comes as a new study from the London School of Economics estimates climate change could ‘wipe $2.5 trillion’ off global financial assets.

If the motion is passed, Hastings will become the first council in Sussex to commit to divestment.

It would also become the first member of the East Sussex Pension Fund to call for the fund to divest itself from fossil fuels.

Fossil Free Hastings said the East Sussex Pension Fund, which is administered by East Sussex County Council, currently has £172m invested in the oil, coal and gas industries.

The group, part of a national campaign aiming to persuade councils and other institutions to ditch their investments in fossil fuels, is calling on residents to contact their councillors to urge them to vote in favour of the motion.

In the UK, councils in Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge have already passed similar motions.

Andrew Durling from Eastbourne Friends of the Earth, will be among those travelling to Hastings for the vote.

He said: “Many people live near our local coast, so sea level rise due to climate change is a real threat.

“This vote is crucial in sending a signal to all councils in East Sussex that they must take action now and stop investing in the fossil fuels damaging our future.”

John Enefer, a spokesman for Fossil Free Hastings, said: “The writing is on the wall for the fossil fuel industry – if we remain as dependent on it for our energy needs in the future, as we have been in the past, then we can look forward to a future of climate chaos in which last December’s floods will look like the good old days.

“The time is right to end our addiction to coal, oil and gas and to realise the full potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“There is a growing global movement demanding change before it’s too late: with this divestment motion Hastings council has an opportunity to be part of this movement and to be on the right side of history.”

Artist Laetitia Yhap has added her support to the move, noting she agrees with Desmond Tutu that ‘It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future’, and urging Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council ‘to divest themselves of their investments in the oil, coal and gas industries’.

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