Councillors, parents and concerned residents called on the county council to declare a climate emergency in a protest this morning (Friday 15).
An estimated 150 people joined together to put pressure on West Sussex County Council to declare a climate emergency and to divest its pensions fund from fossil fuels.
The group set of from the cross and began drumming and chanting before setting off for County Hall for a 'die-in' ahead of a full council meeting this morning.
Announcing the demonstration yesterday, Worthing Climate Action Network claimed that West Sussex County Council is investing 'about £200,000,000' of its pension fund in fossil fuels that are damaging the climate. Read more here: Climate change protesters to march through Chichester
County councillor Michael Jones (Labour) said: "This is a really important subject for West Sussex, well, in fact the world. We've got to start doing the things that are need in order to reduce our carbon so we can hit the targets that world needs. The sea levels rise and there is more flooding.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic about the turnout"
"I'm absolutely ecstatic about the turnout and I think it shows the strength of local feeling and these people who want to go all the way and get something done we want the people to recognise and we are going to put as much pressure on this Tory administration as possible."
From our sister publication today: Students on strike: Crowds turn out for climate march in Brighton
Geoff Barnard of the South East Climate Alliance, said: "I think divestment from fossil fuels is a first step for West Sussex but we should also be declaring a climate emergency."
A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “The West Sussex County Council Pensions Panel is mindful of its legal duty to obtain the best possible return on the investments of the Pension Fund it administers on behalf of numerous employers, consistent with an appropriate risk level.
"However, good practice in terms of social, environmental and corporate governance issues is likely to impact positively on companies’ financial performance. Therefore, our investment managers have been asked to consider, amongst other factors, the effects of social, environmental and governance issues on the performance of a company.
“The Pension Panel has appointed managers who have a discretion to make investments on behalf of the fund and act in the best financial interests of the Fund.
"The investment managers who act on our behalf have signed up to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment (UNPRI) which has been set up by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) to encourage asset owners and asset managers to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision making.”
"We need to take urgent action now"
Addressing the group later Geoff said:"We will be writing to every councillor across the county to get them behind this because it has got to work as a cross party thing."
City councillor Sarah Sharp (Green) said: "I'm here to support Michael Jones who is a county councillor who has put this motion on the agenda today about climate change so we are here to support him in that we believe we need to take urgent action now.
"The IPCC report which came out last year said we have 12 years and we need to take urgent and unprecedented action and make changes in the way we live and the way we eat and in the way we travel and I've seen throughout the country, 20 other places I believe, have declare a a climate emergency and I'd like us to be able to to the same."