Students could be nearing breakthrough in drive for divestment

Image credit: Hattie Hammans

The University Council will meet on Monday 23rd April to discuss divestment from fossil fuels, following pressure from student groups and CUSU.

After meeting with student group Cambridge Zero Carbon Society on 16th April, the University Council has agreed to a meeting to discuss their recent divestment report. The university has a £6.3 billion endowment, the largest in the UK, of which around £377 million are in fossil fuels shares and stocks. The university has also previously received funding from Shell, ExxonMobil and BP.  CUSU Council first passed a motion in favour of divestment in 2015, but little institutional progress has been made since then.

CUSU have maintained a pro-divestment stance, with a unanimous vote in favour of divestment in November 2017, and their public statement today declaring “We do not want our University to be funded by pollution and destruction, and we hope that University Council does the right thing this Monday”. The Graduate Union also voted unanimously for divestment, and several JCRs have passed motions to demonstrate support for the movement.

The Cambridge Zero Carbon Society promised “large-scale disruption” to bring attention to the cause, with their recent activities including a protest at the BNY Mellon Boat Race which received widespread media coverage, a march of 400 people in the city streets, and an online petition which has gathered nearly 800 signatures since its release yesterday. The petition has declared the following aims for the university’s action:

“1. Withdraw all investments – both direct and indirect – from fossil fuel stocks, bonds, and other investments over the next five years.

“2. Commit not to invest in fossil fuel companies in the future.

“3. Commit to establishing a more transparent, accountable and democratic investment policy.”

If the University agreed to this course of action, it would be joining over 60 other universities in the UK, including Edinburgh, which has the third-largest endowment after Cambridge and Oxford.

 

 

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