Hastings fossil fuel divestment campaigners attend national meet

Members of organisations from East Sussex and across the UK at the first UK-wide gathering of fossil fuel divestment campaigners. Photo courtesy of Fossil Free Hastings SUS-161024-184459001
Members of organisations from East Sussex and across the UK at the first UK-wide gathering of fossil fuel divestment campaigners. Photo courtesy of Fossil Free Hastings SUS-161024-184459001

Campaigners from Hastings joined scores of people from across the UK for the first national gathering of fossil fuel divestment supporters.

Fossil Free Hastings (FFH) travelled to Herefordshire for the meeting which included people from three campaigns that have succeeded in wholly or partially divesting their local pension funds from coal, oil and gas: Waltham Forest, Haringey and South Yorkshire.

The group will be in the town centre on Saturday (October 29) to collect signatures for a petition calling on East Sussex County Council (ESCC) to divest its pension fund from fossil fuels.

“It was inspiring to meet so many people from across the country who are fighting to make these dirty and damaging fuels a thing of the past and to get local people’s money reinvested in local infrastructure, such as renewable energy – benefiting both future pensioners and the local economy,” FFH’s Julia Hilton said.

“If councillors in Waltham Forest, Haringey and South Yorkshire can be persuaded to support such sensible and prudent steps, why not those in East Sussex?

“We invite local people to come and talk to us in the town centre this Saturday or to go online and sign the petition at tinyurl.com/eastsussexdivest.”

The East Sussex Pension Fund, which is administered by ESCC, has an estimated £172m invested in fossil fuels.

In April, Hastings Borough Council – a member of the fund - passed a unanimous cross-party motion, calling on ESCC to divest it from coal, gas and oil.

FFH will be holding a stall near Millets in Wellington Place from 11am to 1pm to collect signatures for their petition.

The petition says, ‘investments in fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) are damaging the balance of our climate and pose serious financial risks to investors, including many local pension holders,’ and that, ‘over 500 institutions, representing over $3tn in assets, have already committed to divest (i.e. move their money away) from fossil fuel companies’.

Last month, an East Sussex Pension Fund spokesman 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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