Councils: stop funding fossil fuels
UK Divest is supporting groups to run a series of grassroots-organised events taking place across the UK on Wednesday 3rd November 2021, to coincide with COP26. Find out how to get involved.
While the planet literally burns, local councils across the UK are investing around £10 billion of local workers’ pensions into some of the very companies fuelling the fire.
On 3rd November, as world leaders take part in the UN’s climate talks in Glasgow, people will be coming together across the UK to demand that our local leaders divest from fossil fuels and instead invest in climate justice and a safer future for us all.
We will rally outside town, city, and county halls to tell local decision-makers that climate justice is not just the responsibility of global leaders — it’s theirs too.
Why are groups coming together?
In November 2021, global leaders will descend on Glasgow for the UN climate talks (also called COP26).
The purpose of the #StopFundingFossilFuels Day of Action is to unite climate activists and groups around a common goal: an end to councils pouring local money into fossil fuels.
By mobilising our communities, we will make clear to local leaders that their decisions have global consequences. Every day that our local authorities continue to invest workers’ pensions in fossil fuels is another day they give license to an industry that’s wrecking the planet and causing suffering for communities across the world.
This is a huge opportunity to show the strength of local divestment groups, entice more people to join our network, and raise the profile of divestment within the climate movement. Will your group join in?
HOW TO TAKE PART
Together, our network of local groups can make a real impact in shifting the conversation during COP, highlighting the role of local councils’ money in propping up the fossil fuel industry and calling out climate hypocrisy.
It’s also a great opportunity to recruit more people to join or support your campaign.
Register an action
Register an action on Wednesday 3rd November at your local council’s offices to be added to the map below.
For now, all you need is a name, location, and brief description. You can add more details and edit your event as your plans develop.
Join an action
Find out what actions are taking place near you and how you can get involved.
Please note: some actions listed are not taking place on 3rd November, so double-check the date of any event you’re interested in!
No action taking place near you?
If there’s not an action taking place near you, you can still add your voice to the call for fossil free council pensions in a few easy steps:
1. Find out how much your local authority invests in fossil fuels
Use the UK Divest dashboard to access the latest data on council investments.
2. Take a photo of yourself holding up an orange cross
See if you can get a few of your friends, colleagues, or family members together to take a picture together in a notable place in your community (for instance, the County Hall). Or, you can simply take a selfie in your home.
The orange cross is a recognisable symbol that is used globally to demonstrate support for fossil fuel divestment. You can also add any other banners or messages alongside the cross!
3. Contact your local council on Wednesday 3rd November
Call on your council to divest by tweeting your picture, using the hashtags #COP26 #StopFundingFossilFuels and tagging in your local council and any prominent councillors (for example, the Chair of the Pension Fund Committee).
You can also write to your local councillors using this simple tool.
Tips for planning your action
With everyone's campaigns at various stages and local contexts being very different, we're not setting a specific tactic or action for all groups to do. However, to help us tell a cohesive national story about the actions, we're asking all groups to incorporate the well-known orange cross into your actions and any photos you take.
We encourage you to be as creative as you like, based on the skills and resources you have within your group. Some examples of things that you could do include:
- Council snakes and ladders: Create an interactive giant game of snakes and ladders that people can play, which shows actions the council is taking both towards climate action (the ladders) - and those in opposition to it (the snakes). See this leaflet produced by Friends of the Earth for inspiration.
- Climate justice memorials: This tactic can be used to allow people to come together to bring to life the stories and memories of communities harmed by the injustices of the climate crisis, through chalking, painted tributes on stones, portrait photographs, candles, flowers, murals, and speeches. See this guide from #DefundClimateChaos with ideas of how you can make this happen.
- Building projections: Groups could project investment figures or a call to action on the side of the council building. Bare in mind that it will need to be dark outside if you do this!
- Record interviews with the local community: Use the attention gathered from your action as an opportunity to interview members of the public, asking them what they think about the council's investments in fossil fuels and get their reactions to sharing stories about the companies they are invested in (you can find this data here). This will allow you to continue to build momentum online in the weeks following the action itself, and can be used to help publicise an online petition via social media. See this example of UKSCN London’s interviews outside of the Science Museum.
- Think about creative ways to draw attention to your action – turning the target office into a crime scene, by dressing up as cleaners armed with mops and buckets to “clean up the council's investments”, or staging a “die in”. Get in touch with local artists, actors or musicians to see if they'll help collaborate on a creative stunt!
Think about the ways you can get the word out about your demand and your group during the action. What you might need to engage the public – is there a way passers-by can participate in the event? How will you collect information on people interested in your campaign and follow up with them afterwards?
You might also want to consider who specifically you'd like to talk to and where and when you will be able to reach them. For example, if you want to speak to council staff (who will be members of the pension fund) then gathering outside their offices at lunchtime could be a good opportunity to have a conversation. Whereas, if your priority is to secure a spot on your local radio station's breakfast show, then holding your action earlier in the day may give you more time and make this easier to secure coverage.
We can support you to draft press releases, which you can send to local papers beforehand. Make a list of all the local TV and radio stations, and contact them in advance to see if they will cover the action. Have a volunteer available, confident and prepped with your campaign's key messages to take part in any broadcast interviews on the day!
Spreading the word of your action far and wide will help attract support for the campaign and your group.
Here's how you can spread the word on your social media channels:
- Plan your social media coverage in advance. Prepare some text beforehand and have an idea of the photos you'll need to capture to complement the posts. Make sure you appoint someone responsible for monitoring and posting on social media on the day.
- Think of ways that people who can't make it to the in-person event can participate online – do you have a petition to the council that you can promote? Or would you like to encourage people to contact their local councillor using UK Divest's e-action?
- Take pictures throughout the day and share them on your social profiles, explaining what your group is doing and the demands being made around COP26.
- Take a video and post it on your channels to give your followers a glimpse of the atmosphere. You can interview members of your groups, or just document the action from the sidelines. Read Friends of the Earth's tips on taking your own photos and videos.
- Use the hashtags #COP26, #COP26Glasgow or #ClimateTalks when posting on Twitter or Instagram. If every group does this, we've got more chance of making divestment a real talking point among the wider public and attendees at the conference.
Given how big a moment COP is, this is a great opportunity to reach out to groups you might not usually get a chance to work with. By focusing on climate justice, you'll be able to more easily draw the connections between struggles and across groups of people. You could reach out to groups campaigning on gender justice given how women around the world disproportionately suffer the impacts of climate breakdown. Or to networks supporting asylum seekers and migrants given how the climate crisis is causing people to flee their homes.
We don’t know how the pandemic will play out between now and November. We’re hopeful that we can take to the streets, but if there are greater restrictions on in-person gatherings or if things don’t feel safe or accessible, we’ll need to be flexible and respond quickly. Either way, it is crucial that safety and accessibility are at the forefront of planning for your actions – make sure to think through how you'll ensure people are safe and comfortable at your event.
What to expect from us if you sign up to take part in the #StopFundingFossilFuels Day of Action on 3rd November:
- A small budget contribution to help you cover the costs of the action
- Template local press releases, training to help you get your campaign’s message across in media interviews, and a “press hub” on the day where you can drop in for advice or practice ahead of any interviews
- Opportunities to link up with other groups across the country taking part
- 1:1 coaching calls to help you develop and plan your action
What else can I do for COP26?
Join the call for UK banks, investors and insurers to stop pumping billions of pounds into fossil fuels.
On 29th October, ahead of UN climate talks, groups around the world are rising up to demand that governments and corporations #DefundClimateChaos.
The COP26 Coalition is organising decentralised mass mobilisations across the world, bringing together movements to build power for system change – from indigenous struggles to trade unions, from racial justice groups to youth strikers. There are plenty of demos taking place all across the UK that you can join.
There will be loads of marches, demos, workshops and other events taking place throughout November for anyone based in Glasgow or travelling down for the conference.
The COP26 Coalition is hosting a People's Summit for Climate Justice from 7th-10th November to bring together the climate justice movement to discuss, learn and strategise for system change.