Festive climate protest outside County Hall in Lewes

Santas and elves demonstrated outside County Hall in Lewes on Tuesday (December 3), against East Sussex County Council‘s ongoing role in funding climate change.

The county council currently invests £145million of the East Sussex Pension Fund in oil and gas companies.

Santas and elves protesting outside County Hall in Lewes. Picture: Divest East Sussex

Santas and elves protesting outside County Hall in Lewes. Picture: Divest East Sussex

Tuesday’s protest – which was held to coincide with a full council meeting – featured mince pies, divestment carols and a large sack of presents.

It took place a week after a group of suffragettes delivered an ultimatum to the East Sussex Pension Committee – the decision-making body for the fund – calling on it to agree to stop funding climate change or face a campaign of nonviolent action.

A spokesman for Divest East Sussex, a coalition of groups campaigning to divest the East Sussex Pension Fund from fossil fuels, said: “This year we’ve seen Australia burn, the Arctic melt, Sheffield flood and Mozambique devastated by tropical cyclones. And much, much worse is on the way unless we rapidly transition away from fossil fuels.

“Yet East Sussex County Council continues to invest in the oil and gas companies that are blocking such action.

“They certainly won’t be getting any presents this or any other year until they stop funding climate change.”

In response, a spokesman from the East Sussex Pension Committee said: “More than 74,000 present and future pensioners from more than 130 organisations rely on the East Sussex Pension Fund.

“Divesting from fossil fuels without proper planning could put their financial security at risk and result in the fund being unable to meet its legal duty.

“However, the committee always takes environmental and social factors extremely seriously and only four per cent of the fund is directly involved in fossil fuel investment.

“At its meeting last week, the pension fund committee agreed to the appointment of a consultant to investigate the implication of environmental issues on the pension fund, particularly with regard to the long term risks of climate change.”