Brighton councillor puts climate crime scene tape round County Hall

Posted On 08 Dec 2021 at 10:09 am

A Green councillor helped put crime scene tape around County Hall in Lewes yesterday to protest against pension funds being invested in fossil fuels.

East Sussex County Council were meeting inside as more than campaigners, including Brighton councillor Siriol Hugh-Jones, protested outside, ending with ten minutes of whistles and drums.

The county council has so far refused calls to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund, which covers Brighton and Hove, as well as East Sussex, from fossil fuels, with tens of millions of pounds invested in companies like Shell and BP.

Brighton and Hove City council and Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion) have both called on the council to stop this, and in October more than 150 campaigners delivered a giant ‘Climate Fudge Cake’ to County Hall in protest.

Yesterday’s protest was organised by Divest East Sussex and XR Lewes and supported by Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth.

Councillor Hugh-Jones said: “To keep investing in fossil fuels is completely unsustainable. By continuing to do so the East Sussex Pension Fund is not only flouting its moral obligations but also its duty to its many pension holders.

“Companies whose current value relies on their ability to continue to extract oil, gas or coal are ignoring the bottom line. ESPF should not make the same mistake.”

A spokesperson for Divest East Sussex said: “By clinging on to its investments in fossil fuel companies like Shell and BP, East Sussex County Council is effectively providing a fig-leaf for these companies’ ongoing attempts to block effective climate action.

“With the window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5ºC rapidly closing, this refusal to stop investing in fossil fuel companies is nothing less than criminal.

“It’s time for the county council to finally get serious about the climate crisis and commit to fully divesting local people’s pensions from fossil fuels.”

  1. Peter Challis Reply

    WTF has the East Sussex County Council Pension Fund got to do with the Brighton Pavilion MP and a Brighton and Hove City councillor?

    • Hugh Dunkerley Reply

      BHCC pensions are invested in the ESCC pension fund, but Brighton and Hove City Council has no say over what the money is invested in.

      • Peter Challis Reply

        Why should BHCC have any say – they chose to invest in ESCC’s plan?

        If the city council are unhappy and can convince the city council to invest in schemes that meet Green Party ideological demands then sobeit.

  2. Chaz. Reply

    Agree Peter.
    Greenies looking for relevance, and any protest party they can be photographed at.

    • han Reply

      The relevance runs deep. The pension funds of thousands of residents are invested in insecure fossil fuels, thus endangering individuals future household incomes for retirees plus supporting endangering planetary climate.

      • Phoebe Barrera Reply

        Such beliefs are having a negative effect on the UK’s ability to provide our own energy, which in turn will make us dependant on other countries until we can make the full switch to sustainable energy sources. We need a planned move to carbon-free and this may well require increased investment in energy extraction in the interim.

        We have already seen price increases in energy due to Russia restricting gas flows from their fields, and Shell cancelling the Cambo drilling contract will just make things worse as we still will need the oil for some time, and we will have to buy from other countries instead.

        If we had gone ahead with fracking rather than give into scaremongering about earthquakes and damage to water supplied, we could have avoided the recent 40% increase in energy prices for residents that looks to be repeated in 2022.

        Of course, Greens are happy the energy prices are increasing leading to the need for better insulation to try to limit higher costs. They want to further increase the cost of fossil fuels, especially gas, to encourage householders to switch from boilers to heat pumps.

  3. Bradly Reply

    Quack cllrs agit-prop nonsense

  4. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Final salary pension schemes don’t work as any of you might think or prefer and are very rare now, so the first thing to note – or even celebrate – is that council employees, NHS employees and suchlike are by and large far better off (pensions-wise, although maybe not salary – wise) than many people in the private sector and still have final salary-type schemes, which are much more secure and reliable than the alternatives.

    This is a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. It’s OK to lobby for ethical investment etc (although I think the crime tape thing was an utterly ridiculous stunt) and many final-salary pension funds are challenging the management of the things they invest in and lobbying for greener and more ethical practices, but at the end of the day the duty of the pension funds and their trustees is to provide the promised pensions of their members. There are proper paths to follow for members to ask questions of and pressure the management of a pension fund, which Siriol Hugh-Jones & Co obviously know nothing about (pathetic crime scene tape isn’t one of the proper methods).

    And, if SH-J & Co somehow managed to break off B&H Pensions from the East Sussex Fund and invent a B&H Pension Fund with totally Green policies, then I daresay that it would all go down the tubes almost instantly, with council taxpayers having to prop it up eventually, like everything else this Green council has touched. B&H council employees would be vastly disadvantaged and I think they care very much about their salary-related pensions, which are now a public sector phenomenon that the private sector doesn’t generally have.

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