Fossil fuel divestment placard

Image credit: Creative Commons – Kate Ausburn

In the past 48 hours, the student divestment movement took another leap forward. Two more institutions joined the more than 1,000 worldwide that have cut their ties with the fossil fuel industry. Today, Clare Hall College, Cambridge announced it will divest its £26 million endowment from fossil fuels. This followed the University of Stirling making a similar commitment a day earlier. In doing so, Stirling became the 72nd university in the UK to divest from fossil fuels.

The student wing of the UK divestment movement is coordinated by People & Planet. Speaking to Bright Green, Chris Saltmarsh, Co-Director Climate Change Campaigns at People & Planet said:

Divestments from University of Stirling and Clare Hall in the same week show we’re reaching a tipping point in the battle against fossil fuels.

Divesting is now a mainstream position for UK universities and colleges. Those who still hold fossil fuel investments are sorely lagging behind.

One university that is still ‘lagging behind’ is the University of Cambridge. Despite one of its colleges this week joining three others – Queens’ College, Downing College and Selwyn College – in committing to divest from fossil fuels, the University has repeatedly ruled this out.

A student at Cambridge, and activist with Cambridge Zero Carbon Beth Bhargava told Bright Green:

This is a huge moment for divestment at Cambridge University. With his own College committing to full divestment, the Vice Chancellor is left in an increasingly embarrassing position. Clare Hall have taken critical action on climate crisis, it is time the Vice Chancellor follows their lead and makes an urgent commitment to fully divest within five years.

Bhargava’s comment is the latest in a line of criticism leveled against Cambridge University for its relationship to the fossil fuel industry. Earlier this year, the university was embroiled in controversy after it was revealed that the university had been offered substantial donations from fossil companies at the time it was considering divestment.

Chris Jarvis

About Chris Jarvis

Chris is a writer and campaigner. He has been active in the student movement for almost a decade - working for two years as an elected Sabbatical Officer at the Union of UEA Students, and for two and a half years at student activist network People & Planet. A Green Party member since 2010, Chris has served on the Executive Committee of both the Young Greens and the Green Party of England and Wales. In 2014, Chris co-founded the progressive online publication The Norwich Radical, and in 2018 joined the writing team of The Canary. Chris is currently a Press and Communications Officer at We Own It.