University to continue investment into fossil fuels

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The University of Cambridge announced that it would continue to invest in the use of fossil fuels, despite a growing cohort of staff and students supporting increased divestment into renewable sources of energy.

Cambridge Zero Carbon Society called a leaked draft of a report showing that the University is taking a more conciliatory approach towards the industry a “sham”, adding that it “exposes a deeply anti-democratic and wilfully blind attitude amongst university management.” Zero Carbon has promised to escalate protests in light of this announcement.

Last year Regent House passed a motion supporting divestment, which was later unanimously backed by CUSU Council. Though a working group was subsequently created, it has repeatedly come under fire for its appointment of academics working in departments sponsored by fossil fuel companies. Alice Guillaume, a student representative, resigned from the group earlier this week in protest against the University’s perceived failure to address the scale of the climate crisis “adequately.”

A statement released by Cambridge Zero Carbon attacked the University for its refusal to “face up to the revelations of the Paradise Papers about its offshore investments.” The University is also accused of “tinkering over minutiae,” offering “cosmetic” changes to current policy when temperatures in the Arctic are 20C hotter than average.

“Cambridge could have led the way in sustainability, in creating a social university dedicated to the improvement of society. Instead, it has chosen a discredited status quo, with cosmetic tinkering.”

Eleanor Salter, President at Cambridge Zero Carbon, tied divestment issues to the ongoing staff strikes: “From its attack on staff pensions to its unyielding determination to block divestment, an unaccountable financial bureaucracy is hindering progressive change at Cambridge.”

“Over the coming months Zero Carbon will ally with free education and liberation campaigns to force change and force the University to put its values of sustainability and social justice into practice.”

The report of the Divestment Working Group recommended following partial divestment and positive reinvestment, coupled with a positive investment strategy and positive engagement with investment managers, policy-makers and relevant sectors of industry. Zero Carbon are demanding full divestment. 

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