Guide to Local Government Divestment:
Tips, tricks and resources to help you run an effective local government divestment campaign
There’s no magic formula for running a successful campaign. But, based on learning from across the divestment movement, we can see that we are most likely to win when we successfully combine ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ campaigning.
In other words, it’s crucial to work ‘inside’ to lobby and convince decision-makers on divestment, as well as building ‘outside’ public pressure to force them to act.
This page outlines some of the key arguments and stakeholders you’ll encounter in the world of local government divestment campaigning.
Want to think more about planning your campaign? Make sure to use the Divestment Campaigning Guide – our seven-step guide to building power and winning your campaign.
One of the most crucial stakeholders in your campaign is the members of the pension fund. Although councils manage the money, it ultimately belongs to the members – current and retired workers from institutions in your community.
If you’re not sure what workers pay into the fund, you can usually find a list of employers in the fund annual report (always available on the fund website). The largest groups of employees are generally local government workers.
To win your campaign, it will be crucial to demonstrate strong public support and make lots of noise.
One of the most common ways of showing public support is to launch a petition for divestment – check out some examples of local government petitions, and make your own here. Our petition tool is also powerful because it allows you to contact signatories via email at any time to keep them updated and give them more ways to be involved (check out the Divestment Guide for more information). Taking to the streets to collect signatures is a great way of raising the profile of the issue in your community.
However, petitions are only one tool in the campaigning toolbox and aren’t very powerful in isolation.
Unions could be some of your strongest allies in your campaign.
Public-sector and ‘general’ unions like UNISON and Unite represent huge numbers of fund members of local government schemes, and often have some kind of representation in pension fund decision-making structures.
Unions are also one of the biggest progressive political forces in the country and building solidarity and alliances with them is crucial if we want to fight for just and democratic climate solutions.
A lot of the arguments you’ll face in campaigning for local government divestment are the same general arguments we see across the board, so a good place to start in addressing these is the Divestment Arguments page (particularly the decision-makers section).
Local government divestment campaigners who want to get connected should join the Fossil Free Network. The Network has an email discussion forum, a Slack to connect with global campaigners, and hosts regular calls to share tips and resources.
In October 2016, we hosted the first ever Fossil Free Network Gathering – 40+ campaigners from across the country came together for a weekend of discussion and workshops.
Want to join? Email email@example.com to get linked in!