Fossil fuel protests mount

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Oxford students and activists toured a series of historic Oxford colleges and landmarks to protest against the University’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels, while over 100 Oxford academics and 2000 students have signed an open letter requesting the University to take urgent steps to divest from fossil fuels. This comes as the University has recently closed a consultation to consider the resolutions of OUSU’s Environment and Ethics Fossil Free campaign. The University’s Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee (SRIRC) will meet to consider these submissions on 27 November and the University Council should make its decision in Hilary (spring) Term 2015.

Ruth Meredith, OUSU Vice-President for Charities & Community commented: “The size and speed of growth in OUSU’s Fossil Fuel campaign over the last year indicates how passionate the University Community is about ensuring that Oxford University takes a responsible approach toward its investment. We’re calling on the University to take a proactive approach towards climate change, and divest from coal and tar sands oil as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for the University of Oxford said in a statement to the OxStu: “While the views expressed were diverse, there was agreement that the issue of climate change is one of great importance. It was also widely agreed that the University has a responsibility to consider its position carefully, given the significance of the climate change issue… but concern was raised with respect to a resulting loss in the funding and support received by the University from fossil fuel companies (and related individuals and companies), including funding of academic posts, academic programmes and buildings and student support, such as career opportunities, development and internships.”

Professor J. Doyne Farmer, Co-Director of Complexity Economics Thinking at the Oxford Martin School commented that “Science makes it clear that use of fossil fuels needs to stop as soon as possible. It is technologically feasible to replace fossil fuels in a short time if we only resolve to do so. Oxford University should show leadership by divesting from fossil fuel companies and supporting alternatives, and encouraging others to follow.”

Glasgow University and Oxford City Council became recently became the first University and city council respectively to pledge divestment from fossil fuels, joining institutions such as the British Medical Association and Stanford University.

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