Pembroke commits to full divestment from fossil fuels following student pressure

Louis Mian 18 February 2021
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Following an open letter signed by over 260 students and alumni, Pembroke College has committed to full divestment from fossil fuels by 2023.

The open letter, drawn up by the Pembroke Climate Justice Campaign (PCJC), explained that ‘divestment is an effective, tangible way to effect change’ and called on the college to ‘remove all direct investments from the 200 largest fossil fuel producers in terms of emissions’ by the end of 2021 and to ‘remove all indirect investments’ by ‘switching away from all relevant investment funds by the end of 2023’.

In response to this open letter, Pembroke announced yesterday (17th February) that ‘as a College we regard these requests as broadly reasonable and achievable, and can commit to make all reasonable efforts to deliver them.’

‘There may be a few technical challenges which will only affect small sums (eg liquidating hedge fund holdings) which we can discuss with you as we come across them. We can however underline our commitment to full divestment.’

TCS understands that this decision was made on Tuesday (16th February) in a meeting of the College Trustees and student representatives.

This announcement follows the University’s decision (on 1st October) to commit to full divestment by 2030, as well as announcements which have been recently made by Christ’s College and Trinity Hall.

Pembroke has, however, set out a shorter time frame for achieving divestment than both Christ’s, who have committed to divesting from fossil fuels by 2030, and Trinity Hall, who announced that they will greatly reduce their indirect holdings by 2025.

The PCJC commented that the College’s decision is a ‘huge victory’ and that it ‘demonstrates the enormous power of student campaigning’.

‘The climate crisis is the single most important issue for our times. For decades, the fossil fuel industry has knowingly fuelled climate breakdown, lobbied against environmental regulations, bankrolled misleading climate science, and all while continuing the search for new sources of oil and gas.’

‘This announcement sends a clear signal to the fossil fuel industry that their destructive, exploitative practices have no place in our College, our University, or our society.’

‘Divestment is not simply about safeguarding our own futures. We called for divestment as an act of meaningful solidarity with frontline communities in the Global South, who are already being disproportionately affected by the impacts of the climate crisis,’ the PCJC continued.

The Campaign also noted that they ‘hope to continue engaging constructively with the College to develop an updated investment policy that reflects Pembroke’s commitment to full divestment, and to ensure that the College delivers on these commitments.’

The University-wide campaign group Cambridge Zero Carbon, meanwhile, have explained that ‘this is yet another tremendous victory for the divestment movement at Cambridge University’ and noted that they ‘are confident more and more colleges will now realise that it is utterly unacceptable to maintain any links with the fossil fuel industry.’

Pembroke’s Junior and Graduate Parlour Presidents, Lily Young and Coco Huggins, have welcomed the college’s decision and said that they are ‘grateful for all the hard work by student campaigners’.