Open letter calls on all Cambridge Colleges to divest from fossil fuels

Louis Mian 25 February 2021
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

An open letter has called for all Cambridge Colleges to divest from fossil fuels, emphasising that Colleges should not ‘continue to legitimise those industries that are driving climate breakdown’.

As such, the letter, which has so far received support from 13 JCRs and MCRs, states that ‘today we are putting all un-divested Colleges on notice, urging them to show moral leadership and commit to full divestment from fossil fuel companies.’

This follows recent announcements by both Trinity and Pembroke that they have committed to full divestment.

In an email to students on Monday (22nd February) Trinity’s Master, Dame Sally Davies, explained she was ‘pleased to share that Trinity’s endowment is committing to achieving net zero carbon emissions before 2050 in alignment with the Paris Agreement, and will divest from all fossil fuel exposure in public equities by year-end.’.

Davies further added that ‘this is just the beginning’, stating that the College ‘will move quickly where we can.’

Meanwhile, Pembroke College announced, on 17th February, that they are committing to achieve full divestment from fossil fuels by 2023.

The open letter notes that ‘Pembroke’s recent divestment decision, just a few months after the launch of the Pembroke Climate Justice Campaign, has shown the power of this type of student organising,’ while ‘Trinity’s divestment announcement further hammers home that there simply are no longer any excuses for Colleges not to commit to full divestment from fossil fuels.’

The letter explains that divestment is ‘a plausibly accessible ethical investment policy’ and states that ‘failing to divest fully places these Colleges, which should be at the forefront of responsible, evidence-based climate policy, in the position of laggards needlessly dragging their feet.’

‘A quick look at just one of the funds, State Street UK Equity Tracker Fund, through which Clare College invests 20% of its portfolio reveals that the College remains invested in fossil fuel companies BP and Contour Global, as well as Barclays Bank, the largest funder of new fossil fuel projects in Europe,’ the letter continues.

A different open letter has called upon Murray Edwards College ‘to commit formally and publicly to full divestment.’

Signed by over 50 Murray Edwards students at the time of writing, this open letter explains that ‘all individuals and institutions have a moral responsibility to act and join in the fight for climate justice’ and notes that ‘the future in which Murray Edwards College will exist necessarily needs to be one with sustainability at the forefront.’

TCS has contacted Clare College and Murray Edwards College for comment.