Protesters decorate the Strand building against fossil fuels

Flowers and teddy bears vs. climate change!!

A crowd of protesters gathered today at KCL’s Strand Building and covered the entrance with flowers, posters and teddy bears in an urgent plea to divest King’s of their financial support for fossil fuels. King’s College Climate Emergency, the organising body of the event, says:

“We are calling for decision to end all investment by the college in the fossil fuel industry. KCCE has engaged in this unique campaign strategy because we can wait no longer on climate change. Our demand is concrete, specific and achievable: a decision by KCL to divest from all fossil fuels. We have broken whatever rules need to be broken in order to pressure college bosses to take notice.”

King’s affiliates and non-affiliates alike participated in the gathering, which ran from late morning to early afternoon. Gabby, a student at KCL, says that she dislikes the use of her student fees for fossil fuel investment. “In five years, there’s going to be no Arctic, which is a massive issue.”

Other protesters agreed about KCL’s responsibility towards the Earth, saying that “King’s should be leading the way in the changes we need to see in this world and set an example as a progressive institution”.

Roger Hallam, Phd student and a pivotal figure in the movement towards divestment, describes the campaign as “unprecedented in King’s history” and “a classic case where civil disobedience is justified”.

“People tend to just sign petitions and go to meetings and go on to committees, and a few of us decided last year that climate change is the most important issue in the world, and we can’t wait another five years for the bureaucracy to get organised.”

Hallam has reached the 10th day of his hunger strike for the cause and has been joined in this initiative by about 20 other people. Having met on Thursday with the Chris Mottershead, Vice President of the King’s College Council, his outlook is positive. “My message to King’s,” he says, “is that we need a statement. We need total clarity that we’re going to be out of fossil fuels in the next five years, which is totally doable.”

“I’ve come to the conclusion that when big bureaucracies are dragging their feet, you need to do something a bit transgressive.” – Roger Hallam

Following the meeting with the Vice President, a KCCE spokesperson stated that “he confirmed that our campaign of peaceful direct action has shaken things up, and as a result, a move towards divesting from from fossil fuels by between 2020 and 2025 has been made, along with a decision to increase the percentage of kings investments in renewables and green energy from the present aim of 15% to between 40% and 50% by 2025.”

When the Tab King’s put forth the above allegations to the King’s PR, they responded:

“We recognise the rights of our students to campaign for change and we always welcome open and responsible dialogue on such matters of global importance and concern. We are pleased that the demonstration passed peacefully and without incident.

“As a responsible university, we take climate change very seriously and are committed to playing our part in the vital transition to a low carbon economy. We have chosen to follow actions that deliver real and measurable benefits. The university continues to work closely with the student-led Fossil Free King’s organisation to develop a socially responsible investment plan and we published our position in September last year. ”



All photos taken by Sylvie Dumont and Jared Phanco: @jaredphan