A coalition of academics and activists, including Noam Chomsky and National Union of Students President Shakira Martin, are calling on Cambridge to divest from fossil fuels, increasing the pressure on the University to divest from fossil fuels.
A signed submission, co-written by the National Union of Students and student campaigning group People & Planet, urges the University to fully divest its £6.3 billion endowment from the sector.
The submission criticises the industry for misleading the public on climate science, and draws attention to human rights abuses by fossil fuel companies. It also argues that the industry’s business plans run counter to the Paris Agreement, and consequently highlights a ‘reputational risk’ if Cambridge chooses to maintain its investments with companies such as ExxonMobil and BP.
Master of Magdalene and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams welcomed the contribution, and commented: “‘This is a further welcome contribution to an increasingly urgent argument; our University needs to continue to think hard about how it can take an appropriately leading role in effecting the change we need in our attitude to fossil fuels.'”
A working group on divestment was set up after Regent House passed a motion this year in favour of divestment. CUSU Council also voted in favour in November 2015. Current CUSU President Daisy Eyre is among the signatories to the submission.
The University has faced sustained pressure from campaign group Cambridge Zero Carbon Society, since it launched its divestment campaign two years ago. Over 2000 students signed their petition in its first year, while there have also been several marches for divestment.
A spokesperson for Cambridge Zero Carbon Society said: ‘The University’s own Governing Body has voted for divestment. Its working group should be exploring how to implement that, not prevaricating over a question students and academics have long since answered. This submission is yet another sign that Cambridge needs to get with the times, and divest from fossil fuels. There is no evidence for threats to the University’s research interests, while both the moral and financial cases are overwhelmingly in support of divestment.’
Angus Satow, Press Officer for Zero Carbon, added: ‘History is heading in one direction, away from fossil fuels and towards renewables. It is Cambridge’s choice whether it embraces the future or sticks with a dirty past. Cambridge University says it exists for the benefit of society. But this submission outlines how fossil fuel companies have been complicit in serious human rights abuses and how they have profited from misleading the public on climate science. After a summer of climate chaos, Cambridge has a choice: will it be part of the problem, or part of the solution?’
The full submission can be found here.