The campaign to make Oxford University ‘fossil free’ has gained extensive support from common rooms, ahead of a planned march on Oxford council and the University on Saturday 31st May.
19 common rooms have so far pledged support for the campaign, including nine JCRs and 10 MCRs.
A motion was also passed in support of ending the University’s fossil fuel investments at OUSU Council in January. ‘The Fossil Free Future’ demonstration currently has over 150 people attending the event on Facebook.
The rally is planned to begin at 11am by the Radcliffe Camera, with the demonstration proceeding through Oxford to Bonn Square. It seeks to bring together students, university academics and local activists.
The organisers have arranged several speakers for the event, including Dr Brenda Boardman, who is co-director of the UK Energy Research Centre.
The OUSU Environment and Ethics Campaign adopted fossil fuel divestment as its main project for the 2013-14 academic year, in Trinity term 2013.
The campaign believes a negative screening process should be applied to fossil fuel investments.
Campaigners are also calling for a list of the University’s investments to be published, in order to enhance transparency and student engagement.
In March 2014, the University’s Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee agreed to canvass the opinions of stakeholders on the question of possible divestment from companies ‘that participate in exploration for and/or extraction of fossil fuel reserves’.
The Oxford fossil free divestment campaign is part of an international effort to end investment in fossil fuels and invest in more sustainable business models.
Eleven US colleges and universities, including Stanford University, have so far committed to pursue fossil free divestment.
Michaela Collard, a DPhil student at University College, commented, “As students, we come to Oxford and hear from its academics about the devastating effects of climate change and the need for action. It is clear, though, that the people who hold the power to change how our energy system works, the fossil fuel companies and politicians, are failing to heed the scientific warnings.
“By divesting from fossil fuels, Oxford University can show true moral and intellectual leadership. It can signal to our political leaders the need to follow its example and tackle climate change head on. The alternative is we stay quiet and stick with the status quo until it really is too late.”
James Rainey, a second year Biologist at Balliol College, said, “By investing in an industry intending to exploit four times more fossil fuel reserves than can be burned ‘safely,’ our University is unintentionally undermining our future. Divestment is needed to protect the integrity of Oxford, and build political pressure to prevent the carbon budget from being exceeded.”