We recently held a Divestival in Walthamstow to mark the historic decision of Waltham Forest Council to become the first in the UK to fully commit to divesting their pension fund from fossil fuels. That's £23.9M which will be removed from companies polluting our planet over the next 5 years. Worthy of a celebration we thought...
First we gathered for a photo on the town hall steps as you can see, before marching and singing our way across the road. And while pension reform isn't the most trendy campaign topic, we were really pleased to have over 60 local residents and campaigners from across London gather at the YMCA for further festivities. We had:
Music from the talented multi-instrumentalist Nat Harding and the Jazz duo of Brendan Musk and Rosanna Ter-berg
Laughs from the Eco Poets of Transition Leytonstone
Delicious home made cakes and fantastic snacks from the Hornbeam cafe
plus inspiring words from:
Local Councillor Simon Miller, chairman of the pension fund committee
Local Councillor Yemi Osho, member of the pension fund committee
8 year old Lilly from the successful Fossil Free Southwark campaign (who have now achieved the biggest commitement to divestment in the UK!)
Ellen Gibson from 350.org, who is coordinating divest campaigns around the country
Joel from Divest Reinvest, with some in depth updates on ethical pensions reform
Holly Templer from Friends of the Earth, with an emotional, true story of a young man's escape from the suffering brought by the fossil fuel industry
plus many more activists, campaigners and residents, unfortunately including yours truly ;)
It was absolutely brilliant to hear our local councillors take pride in this decision and show such leadership in this campaign. Over $5 trillion has now been divested out of the fossil fuel industry around the globe, but there is much more work that can be done. For starters, only Waltham Forest and Southwark councils have committed to full divestment so far in the UK. There are many more active campaigns in London and around the country, so I would encourage everyone to have a look for their local campaign HERE and get involved, or start your own!
Alternatively, for anyone who REALLY loves pensions reform, some of us lucky few are getting together to target reforming the Collective Investment Vehicle (CIV), which will come into force in March 2018, taking over from all local government pension fund schemes. If you're interested in getting invovled with this please drop me a private message.
MASSIVE thanks to everyone involved in our Divestival event celebrating this historic decision. In particular to Darragh from WF Friends of the Earth who did the majority of the organising, Sophie for making a beautiful paper maché tree on which people stuck leaves with hopeful messages of a fossil free future, and Mika from Platform London who chaired the event, and whose research and assistance made this campaign a success.