Cambridge’s ties with fossil fuel companies have this week been exposed. An investigation by the climate organisation Greenpeace has shown that the University received £26 million from energy companies in the past five years – of which £15.5 million was in donations and £10.5 million in research projects.
In this instance, the University has failed to apply the rigorous academic standards it expects from its students and researchers to its own actions.
Whilst research projects, such as those funded by the donations from these energy companies, are key to the work that the University does, and does well, previous research cannot be ignored.
The facts are that climate change is a serious issue, and for the university to blithely ignore this is both naive and inconsistent. Much of the research over the past half century that has brought the reality of climate change into the public eye has been led by this University.
Similarly, many graduates of this University have gone on to, and continue to aspire to be part of the scientific work both researching thedevelopment of, and the ways to tackle ever worsening climate change.
The University is not an impoverished institution. It has an endowment that stretches into the billions, especially when aggregated with the individual endowments of colleges, and the ‘Yours, Cambridge’ campaign, if successful, will only increase the already extensive financial power of the institution.
As such, it is indefensible that the University continues to accept money from such unsavoury sources.
Those of us who are students here are immensely fortunate to live an work in a centre of immense learning. This is a university in which the groundbreaking ideas of the future are being built daily, and in which it is possible to immerse yourself entirely in new ideas.
As such, this is a university in which a large proportion of people are aware of the dangers of not acting decisively on climate change and the use of fossil fuels.
The University must commit fully to fossil fuel divestment to make the shift from academic enlightment to practical policy change.