15,000 students sign petition to get universities to divest from fossil fuels

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A student pressure group has delivered 15,000 signatures to Universities UK, an advocacy organisation, in an effort to persuade British higher education institutions to cut their ties with the fossil fuels industry, which is blamed for worsening climate change.

People & Planet accuses UK universities of ignoring the risks posed by climate change and not acting to ditch their investments in the industry. The group has previously suggested that higher education establishments have over £5.2 billion invested in such firms.

On Tuesday, students in London performed a fake auction in which ‘vice chancellors’ bought shares in fossil fuel companies, while highlighting the negative effects that this has on the environment and people.

Helena Dunnett-Orridge, a student from the Fossil Free Birmingham campaign, said, “It is clear that students from around the UK are strongly against our universities’ links to the fossil industry. It is unacceptable for our universities continue to invest in the destruction of our planet.

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    “The Fossil Free campaign is the fastest growing climate change campaign in the UK and we hope that our vice chancellors take note of today’s action, and invest in their students’ future.

    Earlier this month, University of Oxford academics publicly called for the school to rid its £3.8 billion endowment of investments in fossil fuel companies and participated to a large demonstration in support of divestment.

    In the US, the divestment movement has gained support among a growing number of universities, religious institutions and local authorities.

    Over the past few months, Stanford University and Pitzer College in California have separately announced their intentions to become fossil free, while students are also increasingly pressuring in favour of divestment at prestigious universities Harvard and Yale.

    Photo: James Ennis 2

    Further reading:

    Oxford residents and students to march for fossil fuel divestment

    UK universities have £5.2bn invested in the fossil fuel industry, report says

    Students, universities and fossil fuels: divestment campaign comes to UK

    $1.1tn of ‘high cost’ oil investments at risk

    Divestment: Stanford to shift investments in coal towards ‘sustainable’ solutions