Pressure on the University to divest gathers momentum

Image credit: Hattie Hammans

An estimated 300 student, staff and resident campaigners marched through Cambridge today in a renewed bid to persuade the University to divest.   The march was organized by the Zero Carbon Society which they have referred to as a response to the ‘Climate Emergency’.

In a statement released by the group, they have “promised ‘large-scale disruption’ if the University does not backtrack on the draft report, which simply repeats a commitment made two years ago to divest from coal and tar sands, a decision campaigners have slammed as ‘totally insufficient’”.  The press release and campaigns to date have been emphatic of the lack of democracy and transparency at #CorporationCambridge: “Despite both CUSU and Regent House, now bolstered by nine colleges’ JCRs and MCRs, having passed motions supporting the divestment of the University’s £6.3 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies, management has failed to listen.”

A recently leaked report suggested that the University will reject divestment for a third time in as many years, resulting in the resignation of Zero Carbon’s representative on the Divestment Working Group.  CUSU have continued to oppose the University’s course of action, with President Daisy Eyre saying in a recent statement that when representative “Alice Guillaume resigned from the working group tasked with writing this report, she made it clear that the report does not go far enough. According to Guillaume, the University continues to treat climate change as a ‘future issue’”.  Eyre added that “by marching today, we as Cambridge students are showing that we believe the climate change must be tackled NOW.”

Taz Walden, spokesperson for Cambridge Zero Carbon Society said the following about the recent developments:

“The working group report is nothing more than a sham. The University Council has done all it can to oppose divestment, from overturning the decision of its own governing body to appointing academics from departments sponsored by the fossil fuel industry to its working group. The Paradise Papers revealed that Cambridge has invested in deep-sea oil via secret offshore funds yet the University repeatedly fails to to address the concerns of its members and fulfill its democratic mandate. Quite simply, the University management are not facing up to facts – their report is totally insufficient.

“Instead, they are choosing complicity with an immoral industry responsible for climate breakdown. Cambridge’s mission statement includes a “commitment to sustainability”; investing in fossil fuels directly contravenes this. University management must think twice about this indefensible decision, and listen to staff and students. If they don’t, we will escalate our campaign.”

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