Fast-growing divestment movement increases pressure to break ties with fossil fuel companies causing climate change
WORLDWIDE — Thousands of people participated in over 260 events in 45 countries to put pressure on institutions to break their financial ties with fossil fuel companies, during the Global Divestment Mobilisation which ran from 5th to 13th May. The divestment movement, which has started in North America, Australia and Europe is now spreading in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Nicolò Wojewoda, 350.org Europe Team Leader said:
“While governments keep dragging their feet, people from all walks of life stepping up and demonstrating real climate leadership. The divestment movement is now a global force that poses an ever growing challenge to the power of the companies that are the most responsible for causing climate change: the fossil fuel industry.”
Danielle Paffard, 350.org UK Divestment Campaigner said:
“Weeks out from a general election, people everywhere are rallying against the political power of the fossil fuel industry. They’ve been pushing institutions to show leadership towards a clean, sustainable future for all, where politicians aren’t acting fast enough.”
During the Global Divestment Mobilisation, events spanning six continents challenged municipalities, faith, health and cultural institutions, universities, pension funds and banks to divest from fossil fuels.
Over 45 events took place in the UK, including dance flash mobs and rallies, a giant ‘Renewable Ark’ being parked outside Bradford Town Hall, a ‘broken engagement’ sketch for the Church of England and film screenings for doctors.
Divest Parliament announced that 50 MPs had pledged to divest the MPs pension fund, prompting a rush of Parliamentary Candidates to sign up.
The Quakers announced that a quarter of all area meeting committed to divest, and a group of 30 clergy including three bishops sent an open letter to the Church of England Pensions Board, asking them to divest from fossil fuel companies and to invest in renewable alternatives. Around the world, nine Catholic institutions committed to divest, and in Brazil over 3,000 people participated in prayers in a vigil outside the Umuarama Cathedral.
The week was launched at a demonstration at a Lancashire fracking site, and when pressed at their Annual General Meeting, Barclays bank Chairman committed to shareholders to end their investment in UK fracking company Third Energy.
An ‘Oily Cashmob’ at the British Museum exposed UK Government Subsidy to BP of £210m, compared to the £2m BP gives to the arts. It was part of a global wave of protests calling for an end to fossil fuel sponsorship of the arts, including Le Louvre in Paris, and a dramatic intervention at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam resulting in 8 arrests.
Local Governments came under pressure across the UK (including Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, Cambridge, Cornwall, Doncaster, London, Peterborough, Sheffield, Wolverhampton) and around the world to divest. In New York 150 activists rallied inside Trump Tower, to call on New York City officials to cut their ties with the oil and gas companies that control the White House. Over 1000 people marched in Munich, Germany demanding divestment and more climate action. Göttingen and Bremen became the fourth and fifth German city to divest from fossil fuels. In Denmark, campaigners celebrated the twelfth divestment commitment by a Danish city.
Indigenous peoples and fishermen disrupted an oil and gas auction in Rio de Janeiro to speak out against investments in fossil fuels
In the Netherlands, teachers, scientists and civil servants confronted the national pension fund ABP that continues to invest their pension savings in fossil fuels.
Campaigners in Stockholm, Sweden staged a ‘flood’ in front of the Nobel museum to urge the Nobel Foundation to divest.
Students and academics challenged universities in the UK, Argentina, Bolivia, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Nigeria and Hong Kong to divest. French and Flemish speaking students at six universities in Belgium released a joint open letter calling on their institutions to stop investments in fossil fuels.
Banks felt the pressure to divest from coal plants, tar sands, pipelines and fracking, with actions in the UK and Japan, and in New Zealand and Australia campaigners targeted Australian coal giant Adani by calling on the banks that invest in it, including CommBank to stop its funding.
Over 700 institutions across 76 countries with assets of more than US$5.5 trillion have so far committed to pull investments out of fossil fuels. In the face of unprecedented climate impacts, divestment aims to undermine the power of the fossil fuel industry as the main driver of the climate crisis.
CONTACT: Danielle Paffard, 350.org UK Divestment Campaigner, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0) 7979817888
Video footage available here.
QUOTE SHEET: Please find quotes from divestment organisers and leading voices of the climate movement from around the globe here.
NOTES TO EDITORS: You will find additional information including answers to frequently asked questions and media contacts for each of the actions in the Global Divestment Mobilisation media pack.
A detailed overview of divestment commitments to date can be found here.