‘Historic victory’ as five years of campaigning forces Cambridge University to divest from climate-wrecking companies

Cambridge university and power station

Cambridge University has promised to stop all fossil fuel investments by 2030 after a five-year-long campaign.

The university further pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2038.

Both direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels will be divested from, while the £3.5bn Cambridge University Endowment Fund will be put towards investing in renewable energy.

Student activist group Cambridge Zero Carbon said:

This is a historic victory for the divestment movement. After decades of close collaboration with the fossil fuel industry, Cambridge University has been forced to concede to divestment demands put forward by student and staff campaigners.

This sends a resounding signal to BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil: no more will Cambridge University profit from the companies who have decimated frontline communities, bankrolled misleading climate science, lobbied against environmental regulations, and continued to explore for oil even as the planet burns.

The campaign

In 2018, Cambridge University officially rejected proposals for divestment from fossil fuel companies.

Read on...

An investigation by the Guardian in January 2019 found that Cambridge University had been offered donations of more than £20 million by fossil fuel companies BP and BHP Billington and kept them secret. Later that year, the university accepted a £6m donation from Shell for research in oil extraction.

This added momentum to a campaign by Zero Carbon Cambridge to force the university to consider divestment. They conducted several demonstrations and occupations of university finance buildings. A motion signed by 324 academics urging the university to consider divestment was also organised in 2019.

Divesting from fossil fuels

In October 2019, the Guardian published a list of companies responsible for a third of all carbon emissions, among them were Shell, BP and Exxon.

According to People and Planet, a student network campaigning for the environment, 83 universities in the UK have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

Ben Margolis, undergraduate president of the Cambridge students’ union, said:

This is a landmark decision for which students, staff and the Students’ Union have been campaigning for years. The divestment report presents overwhelming evidence that the fossil-fuel industry’s practices are not compatible with the University’s position as a world-leading site of scientific research, or its stated mission to contribute to society. The report points out the importance of divestment for frontline communities who are damaged by past and continued extraction by these companies. We hope that other institutions join us in divesting and take firm action in the face of the climate emergency.

Moving forward

The university plan to start withdrawing investments from energy companies by December 2020 while they aggregate significant investment in renewable energy by 2025.

This will be done in conjunction with Cambridge Zero, the university’s climate crisis initiative.

Professor Stephen J Toope, vice-chancellor at Cambridge University, said:

The university is responding comprehensively to a pressing environmental and moral need for action with an historic announcement that demonstrates our determination to seek solutions to the climate crisis. We will approach with renewed confidence our collaborations with government, industry and research partners around the world as together we work for a zero-carbon future.

Featured image via Flickr/foshie and Unsplash/Marcin Jozwiak

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us