The Oxford Climate Justice Campaign (OCJC) has launched a petition demanding Oxford University and affiliates such as The Careers Service end the “hosting and promoting of recruitment events and job opportunities for fossil fuel companies”.
The petition, which has amassed over 150 signatures, accuses the University of “lending legitimacy to the notion that these climate-destroying corporations have any place in a sustainable and just future.’’
The Campaign claims the presence of fossil fuel companies at careers and freshers’ fairs, networking events and panel talks are examples of the University ignoring both its responsibility as an “institution of knowledge” to act on scientific evidence and its commitment to students.
The Climate Justice Campaign is a part of the Fossil Free movement, a global campaign that operates within multiple communities to “build a future free from the injustice of climate change, and free from the profiteering fossil fuel industry that drives it.”
Divestment from fossil fuels is central to the OCJC’s project.
While pushing for increased transparency, they call for the University’s fossil fuel investments to go through a “negative screening process” and encourage investment into “fossil free” alternatives.
OCJC recently disrupted a Glencore recruitment event, branding the Swiss mining company “climate criminals”, and continues to target divestment within specific JCRs, passing nine motions last Hilary Term.
OCJC coordinator Pascale Gourdeau told Cherwell: “Fossil fuel companies such as BP are directly responsible for the suffering and destruction caused by climate change, particularly in vulnerable communities across the global South.
“Their attempts to recruit young minds are a flagrant refusal to acknowledge their own unsus- tainable role in our society. Their tactic to silently cancel recruitment events should not go unnoticed. This is why we are calling on the university to officially exclude fossil fuel companies from recruitment events and careers fairs. These companies are not serious about the climate crisis, and don’t deserve a place on campus.”
The University defends its current stance on divestment, pointing to its informative body, the Oxford Energy Network which works to “tackle the social, economic and political challenges of sustainable energy for all”, and to its Environmental Sustainability Policy which has diminished the university’s carbon footprint since 2008.
Yet, the Climate Justice Campaign has called their attempts to divest “watered-down”.
A representative from the Oxford Careers Service told the Cherwell: “The Careers Service offers an impartial service which allows students to make informed choices about their futures through access to employers and professional networks. We are actively exploring ways to help students make more informed decisions about organisations’ approaches to sustainability. For example, we are currently working with experts at the Smith School, the Said Business School, and the Oxford Martin School, as well as with the Oxford SU, to develop a tool that would allow students to access recruiters’ sustainability credentials at Careers Fairs and other events – helping them to make more informed choices.
“We also encourage employ- ers to demonstrate other ethical credentials such as membership of Stonewall, B-Corp, Living Wage Foundation, Mindful Employer, and ECU Race Charter; and do not promote unpaid internships or paid-for internships. The University is currently developing an ambitious Sustainability Policy, which will shape the activities of the Careers Service and the wider University in the longer term.”
OCJC is a student-led campaign founded on the conviction that Oxford University should use its enormous financial and cultural influence for environmental justice in a changing climate.
The OCJC website says: “We are part of the fast-growing, international Fossil Free movement, which works to cut support of the fossil fuel industry in major institutions.”