Author: Matthew Taylor
Posted on: The Guardian | April 23rd, 2018

Hundreds of academics, scientists and authors have signed an open letter calling on Cambridge University to stop investing in fossil fuel companies, marking an escalation in an increasing bitter divestment campaign at the institution.
The move, by signatories including Sir David King, until recently the UK’s permanent special representative for climate change, Thomas Blundell, the former president of the UK Science Council and the author Robert Macfarlane, comes as the university council is set to consider the issue at a meeting on Monday.
In a sign of growing tensions, students occupied and shut down the university finance building last week and said there could be “no more business as usual whilst the university remains complicit in the destruction of the planet and vulnerable populations across the globe”.
Macfarlane, a Cambridge academic and author of books including Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places, said the letter underlined the growing concern about the university’s attitude to fossil fuel investments.
“If it fails to divest, Cambridge will be on the side of dirty money over a sustainable future,” he said. “Evidence is everywhere now of companies, countries and institutions taking stands against fossil fuel investment. Why is Cambridge not following the lead of Stanford and Edinburgh universities, and of the whole of New York City?”
Dr Drew Milne, a fellow in the Cambridge’s English department, said it was inconceivable that a university could continue to profit from fossil fuel extraction without damaging its core values.
“The scientific consensus around climate change is clear and overwhelming. The university must now put their money where their science is and divest from fossil fuel investment as soon as possible,” he said.
The university has received money from several oil companies including BP, ExxonMobile and Shell, and campaigners estimate that it has £377m invested in fossil fuel firms both directly and indirectly.
A spokesman said on Sunday that he was unable to answers questions about the divestment dispute, but confirmed in a statement that the university council would consider the matter on Monday.
The divestment campaign has received the support of the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner.
Zeichner said that as a world leading institution in science and innovation, Cambridge University was “perfectly placed to be turning its back on the fossil fuels that are damaging our environment and taking a lead on promoting a low, and eventually zero, carbon economy”.
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