Millions watch as Oxbridge’s boat race is disrupted by climate campaigners

Banner Drop at Oxbridge Boat Race
Chris Jarvis

Oxford and Cambridge students disrupted the annual Cambridge and Oxford Boat Race on 24 March. They called on their universities to ‘divest’ from fossil fuels and remove the money they currently have invested.

The campaigners, part of Oxford Climate Justice Campaign and Cambridge Zero Carbon, dropped a 10 metre long banner, reading “Oxbridge divest” at the event. Millions of people watch the televised race.

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The action was part of long running campaigns against fossil fuel investments at both Oxford and Cambridge. Campaigners argue that such financial links provide both funding and moral support for an industry that contributes to climate change.

Strong ties

According to the student network People and Planet, Cambridge University has over £377 invested in fossil fuel companies. Oxford University has over £153m invested. Earlier this month, a leaked copy of a Cambridge University working group report showed that it would not recommend completely severing these ties.

Both universities also featured in the Paradise Papers scandal in 2017. It was revealed that the two elite universities had invested tens of millions of pounds in offshore funds, including in an oil exploration project.

“Moral obligations”

Tazu Walden, member of Cambridge Zero Carbon Society, told The Canary:

For as long as Cambridge continues to fund climate breakdown and disregards its commitment to sustainability, we’re going to keep putting public pressure on University management. It’s time for Cambridge to listen to its students and staff, reflect on its moral obligations, and divest from fossil fuels.

Julia Peck, member of Oxford Climate Justice Campaign, told The Canary that the Oxbridge campaigns:

imagine two universities investing in a sustainable future. Such a future simply cannot involve fossil fuels – for the good of both people and planet.

A growing movement

Three other universities committed to cut their ties with the fossil fuel industry recently. Durham, Bristol and Cardiff universities all ended [paywall] their investments. Cardiff did so following a student hunger strike.

More and more universities are ending their links with fossil fuels. Campaigners are now hoping Oxbridge will follow suit.

Featured Image via Oxford Climate Justice Campaign

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