Divest movement grows

Divest Waltham Forest activist Rob Platts on last month’s demonstration against fossil fuel investments


Divest campaigners outside City Hall in central London

Campaigners from Divest Waltham Forest gathered with hundreds from around the UK outside City Hall in central London to call for leaders to withdraw their investments from fossil fuels.

The event saw demonstrators form a flotilla of banners shaped as lifeboats, with each representing a different divestment campaign such as universities, faith groups, and the London boroughs – including Waltham Forest.

Speeches at the event highlighted successful divestment campaigns at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and in the borough of Haringey. The demonstrators also heard from Shehroze Khan from Muslim Action for Development and Environment, who implored for greater cooperation between social justice groups to achieve change.

Divest campaigners are arguing for local governments and other public bodies to reconsider certain investments within their pension funds, because of their impact on climate change.

It has been calculated that local authorities’ pension funds have altogether £14billion invested in the fossil fuel industry, and Waltham Forest is no different, with our council’s pension fund holding millions of pounds of investments in companies such as Shell and BP.

It was especially poignant to have mock life boats sailing around Boris Johnson’s office just days after flood alerts were called in London and the Thames Barrier had to be used for the first time this year. It just shows that urgent action is needed on climate change.

To help raise awareness of apparent contradictions in policy, local campaigners are holding
a free film screening on 10th March in Ye Olde Rose and Crown pub, Walthamstow. We will be showing the documentary based on award-winning author Naomi Klien’s book This Changes Everything.

The demonstrators also hope their actions are brought to the attention ofthe London mayoral candidates who have their eyes on the election scheduled for 5th May.

The London Assembly elections will also be held on the same day, and, judging by the fervour of local campaigners, candidates for the North East seat (covering Hackney, Islington
and Waltham Forest) should expect some questions on their commitment to tackling climate change.