Amazing news – we’ve passed 100 divestment commitments in the UK!
It’s been incredible watching such a range of institutions – from universities, to faith, to health, to local government and pension funds – publicly commit to cut their ties with the fossil fuel industry, and see some of the incredible organising and campaigning that has got us there. And it’s still growing.
So here’s some of our highlights from the past few years…
Over the last few years, fossil fuel divestment has taken off in a way nobody quite predicted.
It’s been incredible to watch the momentum build, and celebrate the efforts of determined people everywhere that have organised and campaigned tirelessly to make this happen.
From universities, to faith, to health, to local government and pension funds, as we pass the ‘100 commitments’ mark, there’s now a powerful range of institutions that have publicly committed to cut their ties with the fossil fuel industry.
And the movement is still growing.
Divestment campaigners at the People's Climate March
“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Since the Quakers made the first divestment commitment in the UK, other faith institutions have joined the movement – from the Brighthelm Church and Community Centre to the United Reformed Church of Scotland.
Having divested from coal and tar sands, the Church of England is now under pressure to ‘divest the rest’ and cut their ties with climate villains like Shell, BP and Exxon.
After Glasgow University became the first university in Europe to divest, more than a third of UK universities have followed suit, with students driving the divestment movement across the world.
Many of these battles have been hard won – from the 10-day occupation at Edinburgh University that reversed a ‘no’ decision, to the escalations at King’s College, students have built their power, pushed the moral urgency of climate action and not taken ‘no’ for an answer. And now, many students are taking the fight further – challenging university sponsorship, fossil fuel funding banks and more.
Twelve local councils, from Oxford to Sheffield, Norwich to Hastings have now passed divestment motions, building to the first full divestment commitments from Waltham Forest and Southwark local government pension funds in London in October 2016.
Our local councils invest over £14 billion in the fossil fuel industry, but already there are nearly 50 local groups and campaigns taking action to divest local government, with more springing up every month.
“Just as it doesn’t make sense for organisations whose purpose is to safeguard health to profit from the tobacco industry, health institutions can no longer justify investing in fossil fuel companies but need to start investing in clean energy solutions.” – Isobel Braithwaite, Junior Doctor
As the health impacts of air pollution, climate impacts and fossil fuel use become more present every day, the medical community has spoken out. The divestment resolution by the British Medical Association sent ripples through the community, with pressure increasing on other Royal Colleges to follow suit.
And since launching last year, 30 MPs have signed up to support the ‘Divest Parliament’ campaign (email yours today).
Action by Liberate Tate
We’ve crossed this epic milestone just weeks ahead of the Global Divestment Mobilisation, when people all over the world will be taking action to highlight the moral urgency of cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry and pushing their institutions to divest.
The fossil free divestment movement has been successful because it knows that fighting for climate justice is about changing the power dynamics of our political system and standing up to the fossil fuel industry. It knows that people people can chip away at the pillars of support that hold up the fossil fuel industry, and it thrives on local leadership.
We celebrate these successes in the UK as part of a growing global movement to resist the fossil fuel industry. Divestment is one piece of the puzzle, that takes leadership and inspiration from across the globe and acts in solidarity with those fighting fossil fuel extraction and climate impacts on the frontline.
Celebrating how far we’ve come doesn’t mean ignoring how far we’ve got left to go. With political shifts from Brexit, Trump and the rise of divisive far right populism, alongside increasingly devastatingthe terrifying increase of climate impacts, it’s easy to feel that despite our best efforts, change isn’t happening fast enough. But social change never happens in a straight line.
As elections loom, and the fossil fuel lobby comes out in force, it’s more important than ever that we celebrate our incredible successes so far, build that momentum, and keep organising to break the social and political license of the dirtiest industry on earth.