Action Step 2: Build support
Once you’ve raised the profile of the campaign, the next step is to turn raised awareness into expressions of support for the campaign. The more people demand change from DFID and RBS, the more pressure they will feel and the more likely they will be to improve their policies and practices.
Image © ©Copyright Polyp 2007
Signing an action card is a simple thing that anyone can do to demand change from both DFID and RBS. The more support we can demonstrate, the more notice DFID will take, as every action card represents a concerned voter. RBS will be particularly worried if we can show that enough customers or potential customers support the campaign.
The action cards have two parts to sign. Whatever the focus of your actions, make sure people sign both parts of the cards to call for action from both DFID and RBS. This will keep up the pressure on both targets.
Action Card Hand-Ins
You’ll notice that the cards are addressed c/o People & Planet. This is so that we can collect all the cards to hand in altogether at events. Doing this means that we can have a much greater impact than just sending in the cards a few at a time.
We’ll be looking for opportunities to hand in action cards to both DFID and RBS throughout the year. We’ll also look for opportunities for you to put your points across directly as well. You’ll get advance notice through the P&P e-active news service, and on the news page of the website.
Conference participants sign action cards and pick up leaflets at the P&P stall
The Sheffield P&P team at their Ditch Dirty Development stall
A stall is the easiest way to collect loads of action cards and demonstrate that all-important mass support for the campaign. Here are some tips from last year:
- Have something on the stall that people can get involved in. In Sheffield (above) people added their ‘oily’ handprints to a banner.
- Make an eye-catching banner to let everyone know who you are.
- Make sure you bring pens for people to sign the action cards - tie them to the desk so you don’t lose them!
- Have leaflets to give out and more information for people to read.
- Pick a place where lots of people will pass by and a time when they’ll have time to stop and sign an action card.
Students’ Union Motions
What RBS-Natwest must do to Ditch Dirty Development:
- Calculate and publish the embedded emissions resulting from loans to oil and gas projects
- Cap embedded emissions and set annual targets for reductions
- Commit to a complete transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy lending
- Establish ‘no-go’ areas for lending: immediately halt loans to unconventional fossil fuels (eg coal bed methane and tar sands) and which affect sensitive ecosystems such as rainforests.
Getting your Students’ Union to support the campaign is particularly relevant when it comes to targeting RBS-NatWest. Many Students’ Unions hold bank accounts with either RBS or NatWest. As important customers for RBS-NatWest, they are really important allies in the campaign.
Additionally, if your university banks with RBS-NatWest, or if they hold shares in RBS-NatWest, your Students’ Union can ask the university to raise the same concerns with RBS-NatWest.
The National Union of Students has already joined the campaign, and has written to RBS-NatWest to express their concerns over oil and gas investments. NUS are a crucial ally, but it’s also critical to get Students’ Unions all over the country joining the campaign and building the threat of a boycott if RBS-NatWest don’t change their policy.
Pass a Students’ Union Motion
The easiest way to get your Students’ Union’s support is to pass a motion. This should mandate your union to write to RBS-NatWest. Their letter should contain the following key points:
Express students’ concerns that RBS-NatWest contributes to climate change by lending to oil and gas extraction projects.
Call on RBS-Natwest to accept responsibility for the climate impacts of its loans to fossil fuel projects by adopting a policy incorporating the campaign’s four demands.
Tell RBS-NatWest that the letter is backed by democratic mandate from the student body.
Ask RBS-NatWest to respond with information about the action they are taking to address the points raised in the letter.
Let RBS-NatWest know that if they don’t change their policy on lending to oil and gas extraction, the Students’ Union will have to consider alternative banking options.
In Edinburgh, the People & Planet group passed a motion in their Students’ Association which mandated their Students’ Association to call for the University to enagage with RBS, to use its £10 million investment and involvement with RBS in this process, including using the threat of disinvestment, and to lobby the University to sell its shares in RBS unless they have stopped investing in new fossil fuel exploration and extraction by their 2009 AGM. Since then other union’s have joined in the campaign.
- Download the Edinburgh Students’ Association motion
- Download the Leeds Students’ Union motion
- Download the Warwick Students Union motion
Another way to demonstrate support for Ditch Dirty Development is through giant petitions. Last year loads of groups used this idea, and it worked really well, here are some examples:
Oxford P&P’s Giant Ditch Dirty Development petition
A work of art - all 170+ signatures fill up the barrel and mount the pressure on DFID.
Image © Simon Nash
Giant petitions work really well because:
- They really attract attention to your stall or event.
- It’s fun and easy for people to get involved and show their support.
- People can personalise their messages.
- You can use them to attract student or other local media.
- They make a big impression when you hand them in!
What to do with your giant petition
When we do national action card hand-ins it may be possible to use the giant petitions as well to make these events more eye-catching. Watch out for these on the P&P e-active list and here on the website.
You can use your petition if you’re meeting local decision-makers. The Oxford P&P group, for example, presented their petition to local MP, Andrew Smith. He was clearly impressed with the number of people they’d got to sign the petition, and even signed it himself!