Flashmob: Fossil Free campaigners’ theatrical protest in Chapters at King’s oil investment

Video courtesy of Thea Dumitrescu

STUDENT campaigners stormed Chapters canteen last Friday with a theatrical protest against King’s investment in oil and gas companies.

More than a dozen Fossil Free protesters dressed in bold costumes, including a fake Principal Ed Byrne and a superhero named “Captain Planet,” delivered a play protesting the use of fossil fuels.

The protest had been in the works for several weeks and had not been run past King’s – shocked security staff stood and watched from the sidelines.

King’s students were joined by fellow University of London students – one protester told Roar that they had crashed several other universities in the clamour of Global Divestment Day.

Theatrical: Fossil Free campaigner in Chapters mid-play

This protest came after 1,000 people signed a Fossil Free petition to King’s demanding divestment in energy industries last year.

In October it was reported by Roar that King’s has more than £8 million in major oil and gas polluting companies, including Shell and BP.

KCL Fossil Free protester Mark Horowitz told Roar at the drama protest that the College’s response to the petition was “underwhelming” and “empty rhetoric”

Asked if he thought the Fossil Free campaign would be successful, Horowitz replied that it was only a “matter of time” before King’s divests, and called on College managers to “do it now and be leaders.”

King’s Principal Ed Byrne has signalled engagement with the movement, and is hosting a “Principal’s Student Debate” on the topic of divestment on the 25th of February at Stamford Street.

The Fossil Free demonstrators in Chapters on Friday

His Vice-Principal Chris Mottershead told Roar that King’s was “supportive of relationships with companies in the fossil fuel [industry]… which collaborate with us on important research and education,” provided they recognise and minimise the harm they cause.

Professor of Climate and Culture Mike Hulme told Roar that the fossil free movement: “will do nothing to reduce the risks of climate change, nor enhance the capacities of those most-affected by weather extremes to cope with them.”

“Campaigns for divestment are in danger of reducing climate change to a single symbolic issue, distracting from the wider challenges of meeting the energy needs of the world.”

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