Interview for Swansea Sound / The Wave with Cait Mathews

XR Swansea outside the Guildhall - Divestment Campaign

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m Cait Mathew representing Extinction Rebellion Swansea​. I’m a Human Rights student in London and I live in Swansea outside of term time.

Why are you protesting outside Swansea’s Guildhall?

Climate change is a real threat to the world we live in. The planet is warming up faster than anyone predicted. Even today the weather forecasters have predicted the hottest day EVER recorded!! 

It’s terrible news, but we’re in the middle of the sixth mass extinction! This is not only something for the future generations, we’re experiencing massive species loss, extreme weather events and crop failures right now. 

We all need to do everything we can and that’s why I’m here. I’m trying to take some personal responsibility.

We are in an emergency. The Council has declared a climate emergency and we are now calling for the council to ACT like we are in an emergency!!

Tell us a bit about what you have planned for this protest.

We’ll be speaking to people, getting to know them, handing out fliers, letters, encouraging the Pension Fund Board, Councillors and Officers to sign the online petition and generally having fun!

What do you hope to achieve from this event.

Swansea Council Pension Committee have over £130 million in fossil fuels. They committed to divesting 50% in 4 years but that’s simply NOT FAST ENOUGH! There is very little time to act on this issue.

We’re calling for the Pension Fund Committee to radically speed up it’s divestment process. 

Ideally taking 100% of pension funds out of fossil fuel investments within the next 12 months. It’s an emergency and we know it can be done if the will is there.

Cardiff Council pension Fund have committed to 100% divestment within 5 years. It’s still not enough but its better than Swansea.

Is Swansea Council doing enough to back up its Declaration of a climate emergency?

Absolutely not. They are doing lots of things, don’t get us wrong, but they are certainly not doing enough. It’s like they are currently throwing buckets of water on a house fire. They need to call the fire brigade and switch on the big water hoses and get serious about this!

Hasn’t the council made moves to cut back on fossil fuel investments?

Well, they have made a commitment of 50% over 4 years but its simply not enough. We call for 100% in the next 12 months. Why not? Give us a REALLY good reason why not. There are plenty of other really good investments to be made in renewables and green technologies.

What’s happening outside the Guildhall this morning?

We’re gathering here today to put pressure on the Swansea Council Pensions Board as they have influence over the Pensions Committee. The Pensions Board have a morel duty to call for 100% divestment as soon as physically possible

Why are you back again in the afternoon?

This afternoon is the Full Council meeting and we’ll be encouraging the Councillors to sign the petition and also put forward a motion to divest 100% from fossil fuels within 12 months. We know its possible and they have a duty to do this for all young people in Swansea. 

Swansea Council needs to set a precedent for how to divest quickly. This can then be shared across Wales where we currently have over 1 billion pounds of our pension funds invested on fossil fuels. Its disgraceful and it also means that anyone paying into a pension is supporting the fossil fuel industry and the demise of our society and the planet.

The first demand of Extinction Rebellion is to tell the truth and declare a climate and ecological emergency. 

The second is to Act Now! The Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

Divesting from fossil fuels is a key action to achieving this aim

How can people get engaged and support the campaign?

It would be amazing if any of your listeners today would take a look at this campaign,  especially if they have a pension with Swansea Council themselves. 

The web address is http://xrswansea.org.uk/divest 

Thank you very much