Climate activists paint Town Hall black in protest of fossil fuel investment

A climate protester dressed in baby garb smears a black oily substance on the steps of Hackney Town Hall. 

A climate protester dressed in baby garb smears a black oily substance on the steps of Hackney Town Hall. - Credit: Divest Hackney

Hackney residents marched across the borough over the weekend and drenched the Town Hall steps in black liquid, calling for an end to its investments in fossil fuels. 

The protest on May 22, organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR) and supported by grassroots group Divest Hackney, saw large numbers of people march for the climate, urging the Hackney Council Pension Fund to fully divest from fossil fuels. 

Local XR campaigner, Joe Coroneo-Seaman said: “This is just the beginning. There’s simply too much at stake for Hackney council to continue to pour millions into companies that are actively putting profit before the lives of millions of people across the globe.

"We need to invest in our future, not fossil fuels.”

Local XR and Divest Hackney campaigners at Hackney Town Hall protesting the council's investment in fossil fuels. 

Local XR and Divest Hackney campaigners at Hackney Town Hall protesting the council's investment in fossil fuels. - Credit: Divest Hackney

The rally follows a report released in February which revealed the £35m the council continues to invest in fossil fuel companies like BP, Shell, BHP and ExxonMobil, despite declaring a climate emergency in 2019. 

Stine Wilhelmsen from Divest Hackney, added: “Hackney council’s decision to remain invested in oil, coal and gas companies is looking increasingly reckless and irresponsible with each passing day."

Local people gathered at Hackney Downs Park at noon and marched across Hackney for the climate.

Local people gathered at Hackney Downs Park at noon and marched across Hackney, finally rallying outside the Town Hall, demanding the council fully divest from fossil fuels. - Credit: Divest Hackney

Earlier this year on March 17, the pension fund shared a new timeline to review further decarbonisation of its investments to reflect the council’s 2040 net zero commitment and the UN's target to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial revolution average.


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But the council's "gradual" approach was met with criticism from climate action groups. 

The climate march across Hackney included drummers and a big pink banner. 

The climate march across Hackney included drummers and a big pink banner. - Credit: Divest Hackney

Ian Williams, Hackney's Group Director of Finance and Corporate Resources, said at the time, that the borough's pension fund had led in taking "strong action" to tackle climate change. 

He said it had reduced its exposure to fossil fuel reserves by 31 per cent over three years and was on track to further reduce exposure by at least 50 per cent over the next three. 

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Mr Williams added that the council's 50 per cent target is "a step towards a fossil fuel free fund in the future".

In February, it was revealed that Hackney council continues to invest £35m in fossil fuel companies. 

In February, it was revealed that Hackney council continues to invest £35m in fossil fuel companies. - Credit: Divest Hackney

XR Hackney and Divest Hackney plan to continue putting pressure on the council to divest this year as the Pension Committee revisits its responsible investment strategy and the UK prepares to host the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow in November.

In July, organisers are planning a Hackney People's Assembly on the council's investments.

Hackney Council was contacted for comment. 

A pink protest sign reads: "Hackney helping fund the climate crisis."

A pink protest sign reads: "Hackney helping fund the climate crisis." - Credit: Divest Hackney

A local campaigner on the march. 

A local campaigner on the march. - Credit: Divest Hackney

Campaigners marching peacefully through the streets of Hackney. 

Campaigners marching peacefully through the streets of Hackney. - Credit: Divest Hackney

Police approach a local protester, as they smear what looks like oil, over Hackney Town Hall's steps. 

Police approach a local protester, as they smear what looks like oil, over Hackney Town Hall's steps. - Credit: Divest Hackney


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