Divestment Day of Action: Councils, pension funds and financial institutions urged to stop investing in the climate crisis

  • More than 30 groups across Britain expected to join ‘Divest from Crisis’ day of action on Friday 24 March.
  • Over 50 councils have now formally passed divestment from fossil fuel motions.

Local authorities, pension funds and financial institutions are being urged to take action to simultaneously address the fuel poverty, climate and energy crises by fossil fuel divestment groups across the UK today (Friday 24 March).

More than 30 groups across the country are expected to join today’s Divest from Crisis day of action, which has been organised by environmental justice organisations Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and NI), Friends of the Earth Scotland and Platform.

It comes as the world’s scientists delivered a stark warning this week that there is “a rapidly closing window of opportunity” for countries to act on climate and secure “a liveable and sustainable future”. 

More than 50 local councils have now formally backed divestment from fossil fuels, with the most recent support coming from Cheltenham Borough Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council this week.

In 2021, the UK pensions industry was estimated to invest £128bn into the fossil fuel companies that are driving the crisis. Meanwhile, the UK’s biggest banks have invested tens of billions into fossil fuel expansion projects set to tip global heating well beyond safe limits.

With millions of households across the country struggling to pay soaring energy bills driven by the nation’s fossil fuel dependency, campaign groups are calling on investors to divest from expensive and unstable fossil fuels and boost investment in affordable and future-proof renewables.

In London, 100 members of the Climate Choir are expected to march through central London. The action targets big-name asset managers BlackRock and Vanguard, who also provide management and investment services to many UK local government pension schemes. Both institutions have recently affirmed their commitment to investing in fossil fuel expansion, against the advice of the International Energy Agency. In Gwynedd, North Wales, local campaigners will stage a “tug of war” between fossil fuels and climate action outside of council offices.

Events are also taking place in other locations including Nottinghamshire, Tyne and Wear, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, East Yorkshire, and in West Yorkshire and Edinburgh. All events are organised by local grassroots climate finance and divestment groups. A list of events and contact details are in the notes below.

The day of action follows protests earlier this week. In East Sussex, campaigners delivered 5,000 petition signatures to East Sussex County Council. While in Buckinghamshire, a demonstration was held outside the county court, where the case of a local resident, who withheld their council tax payments in protest over the local authority’s investments in fossil fuel investments, was being heard.

Rianna Gargiulo, divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and N. Ireland), said:

“Investors like our local council pension funds have a clear choice. They can either continue gambling billions on fossil fuels and propping up a broken and costly energy system, or invest in what’s really needed right now: decent housing and affordable renewable energy for all.

“This crisis will only intensify if we don’t divest from fossil fuels and invest now to drive the transition for a clean, fair and affordable future.”

Stephen Smellie, UNISON Scotland, said:

“UNISON members care about how their pension pots are invested. Firstly, we want to ensure that our pensions are safe for the future. Fossil fuels are not a safe investment for the future. Secondly, we care about the future of the environment and fossil fuels are responsible for destroying it.

“We have demonstrated that, as the members of pension funds, we want to be consulted on how our money is invested and we would call on pension funds to do that.”

Robert Noyes, energy economist at Platform, said:

“UK pensions should stop propping up risky fossil fuels and invest in a future worth retiring into. As household bills rise, companies like BP and Shell use soaring energy costs to double down on payouts and fossil fuel production.

“Shell and BP made enough profits in 2022 to pay 80% of the UK’s household energy bills in full. Instead, they boosted executive pay and backtracked out of paltry climate commitments. Whether it’s the climate disaster or the cost of living they profit, we pay.”

Fossil fuel companies have been widely criticised for making large shareholder payouts in the middle of a cost of living crisis, with one report by Common Wealth finding that BP distributed £11.8bn in shareholder payouts in 2022 – fourteen times their capital expenditure in ‘low-carbon’ activities. 

Matthew Lawrence, Founder & Director of Common Wealth, said:

“The fossil fuel industry relies on a familiar defence: their profits pay our pensions. But this just isn’t true on any meaningful scale. UK pensions don’t own enough of BP or Shell for their profits to make a difference to most people.

“UK pensions are propping up the industry by not completing the job of fully divesting from it. We have the capacity to decarbonise justly and rapidly and provide security for all in old age. But first we have to wind down Big Oil and put our pensions into a just transition.”

Today’s events take place alongside renewed public demands for fossil free investment both in the UK and globally. These include Operation Noah’s ongoing “40 Days, 40 Dioceses” campaign, calling on church dioceses to divest from fossil fuels by the end of Lent, and Third Act’s “Stop Dirty Banks” mobilisations across the US earlier this week.


For more information contact the Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) press office on 020 7566 1649 or email media@foe.co.uk. 

Notes to editors

1. Photos from the day will be uploaded here. Contact ukdivest@gmail.com if you require higher resolution images.

2. More information about the day can be found here.

3. The map of all actions taking place can be found here. The full list is as follows:


  • Argyll & Bute
  • Edinburgh
  • Galashiels
  • Glasgow
  • Haddington
  • Melrose


  • Beverley, East Yorkshire
  • Bradford, West Yorkshire
  • Gateshead, Tyne & Wear
  • Leeds, West Yorkshire
  • Morpeth, Tyne & Wear
  • Newcastle, Tyne & Wear
  • South Shields, Tyne & Wear
  • Sunderland, Tyne & Wear
  • Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear


  • Droylsden, Greater Manchester
  • Kendal, Cumbria
  • Penrith, Cumbria


  • Belper, Derbyshire
  • Leicester, Leicestershire
  • Matlock, Derbyshire
  • Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
  • Warwick, Warwickshire
  • Wolverhampton, West Midlands


  • Bristol, Avon
  • Gloucester, Gloucestershire


  • Brent, London
  • Central London
  • High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
  • Lewes, East Sussex
  • Oxford, Oxfordshire
  • Worthing, West Sussex


  • Caernarfon 

4. The full list of council divestment motions can be found here.

5. UK Divest is a collaboration between Platform, Friends of the Earth, and Friends of the Earth Scotland  that supports a network of grassroots groups and NGO partners to demand our communities and public institutions to cut their political, social and financial ties to the fossil fuel industry.

6. About the organisations:

Platform is a UK-based environmental and social justice collective with campaigns focused on the global oil industry, fossil fuel finance, and building capacity toward climate justice and energy democracy.

Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland is part of an international community dedicated to protecting the natural world and the wellbeing of everyone in it. We lead campaigns, provide resources and information, and drive real solutions to the environmental problems facing us all.

Friends of the Earth Scotland: Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland. We are part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting 75 national member groups worldwide.