Campaigners' joy as Hastings council agrees fossil fuel divestment

Climate change campaigners celebrated as Hastings council became the first in Sussex to agree to divest in fossil fuels on Wednesday (April 13).

Campaigners celebrated outside the town hall after the council agreed to divest in fossil fuels over the next five years. Photo courtesy of Fossil Free Hastings

Labour and Conservative councillors united to unanimously pass Hastings Borough Council leader Peter Chowney’s motion.

The local authority will now divest from any fossil fuel bonds within five years and put pressure on other councils to do the same.

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Campaign group Fossil Free Hastings’ spokesman, John Enefer, praised councillors’ unity.

“We welcome the fact that Hastings councillors have set aside party differences to do the right thing, with a united call to East Sussex County Council to rid itself of its £172m of investments in the oil, coal and gas industries,” he said.

“These investments pose a threat the climate and to local people’s pensions, and so ditching them isn’t – and shouldn’t be – a party political issue.”

The campaigners’ drive is not over as Mr Enefer called on other institutions who are a part of the East Sussex Pension Fund, including East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and University of Brighton, to put pressure on the fund to also divest.

Cllr Chowney (Lab) said it is important for public bodies to recognise the ‘absolutely critical nature of climate change’ during the debate.

Tory leader Liam Atkins said: “It is difficult to argue with the following quote from Desmond Tutu: ‘It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet’.”

Patricia Patterson Vanegas from green campaign group Climate Forest Row said she was inspired to see Fossil Free Hastings moving forward in its campaign.

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