East Sussex residents deliver UN climate report to County Council
Document should be a wake-up call for East Sussex Pension Fund, say campaigners
Members of local campaign group Divest East Sussex delivered the latest United Nations (UN) report on climate change to a meeting of East Sussex County Council last week saying that it should be a wake-up call for the East Sussex Pension Fund to ditch its investments in the fossil fuel (oil, coal & gas) industries.
Published last week, ‘Global Warming of 1.5 °C’ concluded that, “limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared with 2°C, could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050” but stresses the window for doing this and thereby avoiding the worst impacts of climate change is rapidly closing.
According to Professor Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change for the UK government the next ten years are going to be absolutely crucial in determining what kind of world will exist in the decades beyond.
“If we act decisively and innovate and invest wisely, we could avoid the worst impacts of climate change… If we do not, we face a world in which it will become increasingly difficult for us and future generations to thrive,” says Professor Stern.
The burning of fossil fuels is the main driver of global warming and the East Sussex Pension Fund – which is administered by the County Council and holds the pensions for a wide range of organisations right across East Sussex – is estimated to have at least £150m invested in fossil fuels. In welcoming the report former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres called on financial institutions like the East Sussex pension fund to assess the risks they were bringing about by not moving out of fossil fuels and related investments.
Hugh Dunkerley, one of those delivering the report, said: “We’ve already seen global warming of over one degree centigrade, and the resulting climate change is now leading to increasingly severe impacts – from rapidly melting sea-ice at the poles to 50 degree heatwaves in India and drought in California. Three degrees of warming – which is where we’re currently heading – would see increasing areas of the planet being rendered essentially uninhabitable by drought and heat.
“We’re sure that the members of the East Sussex Pension Committee agree that we have a duty to future generations not to leave them such a world. We call on them to follow the lead of other pension funds around the world, and ditch their investments in these dangerous and risky fuels that are destroying the balance of the earth’s climate.”