Campaigners at Sussex University holding a banner reading "fossil free careers"

The UK’s largest university staff union, University and College Union (UCU) has voted to back the student-led campaign for Fossil Free Careers at its annual congress. Delegates at the congress, the supreme policy-making body of the UCU, voted to back the campaign and to “actively work with People & Planet to publicly support the student-led Fossil Free Careers campaign, calling on careers services to align their operations with sustainability considerations particularly by declining to promote oil, gas and mining companies.”

The motion was proposed by the Academic-Related and Professional Services staff committee of UCU, which represents a range of staff including careers service workers. It was carried in a democratic vote at congress by delegates from across the UK, and commits UCU to supporting the campaign and future calls for action.

Speaking on the decision, Marianne Quick – Bargaining & Negotiations Official for UCU – said, “UCU members have made it clear that we need to be supporting student-led campaigns such as People & Planet’s Fossil Free Careers, to meaningfully address the climate crisis. This includes calling on all UK university careers services to align their operations with sustainability considerations, particularly by declining to promote oil, gas and mining companies.”

The Fossil Free Careers campaign is coordinated by the UK’s largest student activist network People & Planet. It calls for university careers services to implement an Ethical Careers Policy that explicitly excludes the oil, gas, and mining industry from all recruitment activities. It already has the official endorsement of the UK’s largest body of students, the National Union of Students (NUS), who in April 2022 wrote a statement saying that “educational institutions must take urgent action to embed sustainability and ethics considerations in their careers service operations: it’s time for Fossil Free Careers.”

J Clarke, Co-Director: Climate Campaigns at People & Planet said on the decision of UCU to back the campaign,

The backing of university staff is hugely important to the Fossil Free Careers campaign. All across the world workers need to be actively involved in organising a Just Transition to a low-carbon society in order to rapidly address the climate crisis. It’s great to see UCU doing exactly that and students and staff working in coalition to push for climate justice in UK universities. There should be no room for oil, gas or mining recruiters on UK campuses.

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