‘Divestment D-Day’ delayed

Phyllis Chan 22 May 2018

A University Council meeting that was expected to culminate in a decision over whether to fully divest after a three-year debate has been postponed the decision for further deliberation.  Meanwhile, the hungerstrikers have started to eat once again since the decision.

The meeting had taken place to discuss the final report from the Divestment Working Group, recommending environmentally-friendly measures; encouraging the University to commit to 100% renewable energy sources by 2030, with carbon neutrality by 2040. More specifically, it marked out thermal coal and tar sands to not be invested in, directly or indirectly.

Students and fellows of the University have taken leading roles in the divestment campaign, many as part of the Cambridge Zero Carbon Society, which organized a rally outside the Old Schools to take place today as the council meeting proceeded. It has encouraged the council to ‘consult with students and staff’.

Today’s announcement has answered little in terms of which direction the University is looking to take. Students have continued to participate in hunger strikes, and Zero Carbon is in its third day of its Greenwich House occupation, and plan to continue ‘until a commitment to full divestment is made.’ Zero Carbon protests have occurred less recently in April, with a barricade of the University finance offices and a five-day student occupation of the Old Schools that made national headlines.

Last week, pro-divestment slogans were sprayed in chalk paint on the façade of Senate House. The University have accepted research funding from several oil companies, including British Petroleum (BP) and Shell. The research fund totals £6.3 billion. Furthermore, Cambridge has the largest fossil-fuel endowment out of the US, and previous estimations by the lobby group People and Planet of total investment by Cambridge in fossil fuels has exceeded over £370 million. The University said that inconclusive announcements will be further addressed before the next monthly discussion of the Council on the 18th of June