“Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe”
The opening lines of Lewis Carroll’s famous Jabberwocky are often applied to the current Levelling Up secretary – a man for whom the epithet “slithy tove” might have been specifically coined.
However, Divest Derbyshire has found a different use for Carroll’s creature.
National Day of Divestment
Friday 24 March has been designated National Day of Divestment by UK Divest. UK Divest is a collaboration between Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Platform with various other partners. It supports local grassroots groups across the UK who are demanding that our communities and public institutions divest (i.e. cut) their political, social and financial ties to the fossil fuel industry.
Friday 24 March will see people across the UK will taking to the streets to demand their local authority stops funding the oil and gas industry.
As part of the national programme, a giant oil monster and oil barons will perform an oil-themed Jabberwocky in Matlock on Wednesday 22 March, to highlight the fact that Derbyshire County Council (DCC) pension funds are still being invested in fossil fuels.
The ten-foot-high monster is the creation of Derbyshire Dales Climate Hub and will be accompanied by masked oil barons, a Samba band and campaigners calling for investment in green industries, not oil. The event is scheduled to occur just before a full DCC meeting in County Hall at 2pm. Campaigners have submitted several public questions about divestment to be asked at the meeting.
On the National Day itself, campaigners will also be holding a free screening of the hard-hitting documentary, The Oil Machine, in Matlock. This will be followed by a panel discussion including an ethical financial expert and youth activist.
Wendy Bullar from Derbyshire Dales Climate Hub said1:
“The Oil Barons have Shelled out £200 billion in dividends to their investors since 2010. This is at a time when millions of households are struggling to pay their energy bills; choosing between heating or eating. We need to quit our addiction to oil and see the government invest in green, lower cost technology that will not pollute the earth; our only home.”
Derbyshire Pension Fund
The Derbyshire Pension Fund is managed by Derbyshire County Council and has 100,000 members. According to a 2021 report by Friends of the Earth, it has nearly £150mn invested in oil and gas companies. As the world moves increasingly to cut carbon emissions, these pension funds will lose more and more of their value. The same report states that between 2017 and 2020, the Derbyshire Pension Fund lost nearly £65mn in value – the 8th biggest loss in the country. Most of the losses will be borne by individual people.
Joanna Collins, Green Party Councillor for High Peak Borough Council feels this situation needs to change1:
“We need pension funds to invest in the future, not the past. Fossil fuels have already done enough damage to the planet. As we move away from them, they won’t even be a good investment financially. Investment in renewable energy and other green industries makes sense for our health and the planet’s. For the long periods pension funds cover, it makes financial sense, too.”
The Jabberwock will be in Matlock on Wednesday 22 March, at Hall Leys Park from 12pm and then at County Hall from 1pm.
The movie screening will be at the Imperial Rooms, Imperial Rd, Matlock, DE4 3NL from 6.30pm on Friday 24 March.
1: Press release issued by Divest Derbyshire, ‘Oil monster spooks town about risk to pensions’ 13 March 2023