Pressure mounts on Uni to withdraw funding from fossil fuel companies
Pressure is mounting on Bristol University to withdraw its investments in fossil fuel companies ahead of this year’s Court meeting, where Councillor Carla Denyer will be tabling a motion calling for the university to become ‘fossil free’.
Last year, a similar motion fell at the meeting of the University’s advisory body by just 2% of the vote. Since then there has been a growing campaign across the city on the issue, including a 140ft long divestment mural, which was put up on the M32 as new students arrived at the university to raise awareness of the issue.
Green Councillor Carla Denyer, who is hoping that this year her motion will be passed by the University of Bristol Court said:
“The prospect of catastrophic climate change is so terrifying, and will so unfairly impact on those who are the least to blame for causing it. Yet it is also so complicated to solve that I often feel powerless. But here, the University has a rare opportunity to exert a small amount of power, to prevent or lessen the effects of climate change. By pulling investment from fossil fuel companies, the University can say to the world that in the 21st century, investing in climate change is just not OK.”
“Bristol University is now lagging behind. A quarter of UK universities have now committed to divest. Worldwide, the divestment campaign has seen leading institutions pledge to phase out fossil fuels from portfolios totalling $3.4 trillion, up from $2.6 trillion just 12 months ago. Meanwhile, according to research by The Bristol Cable, Bristol University’s investment in fossil fuels has shockingly increased over the last year. In 2015 I asked the University to show leadership – this year I am just asking them to keep up.”
Professor Chris McMahon, an Engineering lecturer at the University, who wrote an open letter to the Vice Chancellor last year calling for divestment, signed by over 50 members of staff, said,
"A number of my colleagues in the University are leading members of the worldwide scientific community that has clearly established that it is imperative that we reduce our carbon emissions as a matter of urgency.”
“Many universities and other bodies throughout the world have recognised that the moral case for divestment is clear and compelling. Although this is a time of deep uncertainty about the future I believe that divestment from fossil fuels and investment in renewable energies (in which many organisations in the city of Bristol are showing leadership) is also recognised as the economically and politically wise thing to do. I hope that the University will show such wisdom and real leadership and move quickly to a decision to divest from fossil fuels"
Paloma Parkes, one of the students from the Fossil Free University of Bristol campaign, explained:
"After the appointment by Donald Trump of a climate change denier to be in charge or the Environmental Protection Agency, the need for action on climate change is more urgent than ever. Campaigns need to redouble their efforts and universities need to invest their money in line with their principles and understanding of science”
Reverend Ed Davis, Anglican Chaplain for the University of Bristol, and one of the members of Court who co-signed the motion, added,
"Many students and staff are committed to developing a more sustainable future, and will be pleased to see this priority embedded within the new University Strategy. Ensuring that its investments are consistent with sustainability will therefore be a natural step in helping the University become the kind of institution it aspires to be."