After four years of student campaigning, Cambridge’s Trinity College has promised to divest fully from fossil fuels in the next 10 years.
The college has vowed to end all direct investment into fossil fuels by the end of 2021, and all indirect investment within 5-10 years.
Trinity is only the third Cambridge college to promise full divestment. The university as a whole has promised divestment by 2030, with no distinction between direct and indirect investments.
HUGE! Congratulations to the students, staff and alumni who have been campaigning over the past 5 years to move the college's £1.5bn endowment fund out of fossil fuels 💪
— 350.org Europe (@350Europe) February 22, 2021
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
A welcome decision
A 2018 investigation found that Trinity College had at least £9.1m directly invested in gas and oil extraction, exploration and production. £8.2m of this was invested in the 100 companies responsible for 71% of all global emissions.
Cambridge University has come under fire before for accepting donations from Shell, as well as concealing offered donations from BP and BHP.
The 120+ college alumni who called for the college to divest earlier this year have celebrated the decision.
Trinity Alumni for Divestment said:
Trinity Alumni for Divestment welcomes Trinity College’s momentous decision to divest from the fossil fuel industry. By divesting from fossil fuels, the college is sending a powerful political message: that it will no longer support the most destructive industry on the planet. This decision would not have been made without years of sustained pressure from Trinity’s students and alumni.
Divesting from fossil fuels will benefit the future of its students and alumni, but is also a first step to discharging Trinity’s responsibility, as a wealthy institution situated in the Global North, to frontline communities suffering first and worst from climate impacts. As alumni, we hope the college will continue to leverage its significant endowment to make positive change by severing its ties with all destructive industries, including arms and industrial agriculture.
Severing ties with all destructive industries
While campaigners as a whole welcomed the decision, students affirmed their commitment to calling for colleges to stop investments in arms and agriculture.
In 2018, Varsity reported that Trinity College had investments of nearly £2.5m in arms companies such as BAE systems and Caterpillar Inc.
In 2019, the college “screened out direct investments in companies that are associated with controversial, civilian and nuclear weapons and tobacco, that derive revenues from thermal coal and oil sands extraction and that are not compliant with the United Nations Global Compact principles”.
Despite this, campaigners say the college’s index fund does not screen all investments, such as those from Caterpillar Inc and Rolls Royce.
Cambridge University Zero Carbon Society said:
Zero Carbon celebrates the enormity of Trinity College’s historic (and long overdue) divestment decision, recognising the central role that fossil fuel companies continue to play in the climate crisis. We hope that this will inspire other Cambridge colleges to follow suit, and praise the committed students, staff, and alumni who have been campaigning tirelessly on this issue over the past four years.
The fight for climate justice goes well beyond the divestment movement however, and this must be only the first step in the College’s rejection of destructive industries: while Trinity maintains investments in arms companies, and banks with Barclays – the biggest funder of fossil fuel infrastructure in Europe – there is still work to be done. We continue to demand that Cambridge University and Colleges urgently sever all ties with destructive industries.
Yes 👏🏼 But pressure must be kept up to ensure Trinity does not move these investments into its already staggering portfolio in arms companies including BAE Systems, Caterpillar Inc, General Dynamics & Lockheed Martin https://t.co/pdnLic4wzk
— Sarah Jilani (@sarahjilani) February 22, 2021
BaBoom! This is a massive one for #FossilFree UK unis campaign. Big props to students who kept unrelenting pressure on Cambridge colleges to do the right thing with their huge endowments.
— Louise Hazan (@greenhaze) February 22, 2021
According to People & Planet, 85 UK universities have made some commitment to divesting from fossil fuels.
The divestment movement defines direct investment as investment in any of the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies. Indirect investments are within funds blending assets from a range of accounts, with not many managers offering fossil-free funds. These investments therefore usually take longer to remove.
Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org and the global fossil fuel divestment movement, said:
That the one-time home of Isaac Newton now embraces divestment is a powerful reminder of the great, undeniable physical realities our planet now faces: Trinity’s stand here will echo loudly, precisely because of the history of scientific scholarship it embodies. Those who fought long and hard for this day have done the future a great service.
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?