Durham SU votes in favour of fossil free campaigns

By and Anna Calzada

The Durham SU Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporting the Fossil Free Careers Campaign. The SU is now committed to “publicly support the Fossil Free Careers Campaign” in its goals. 

Fossil Free Careers is a student-led campaign which is committed to ending the University’s careers department’s relationship with oil, gas or mining companies. This involves the careers department refusing all new relationships with oil, gas and mining companies and not renewing any current relationships.  

The campaign has already gained the support of 13 college Environment Chairs and Green Committee Chairs. 

Talking to Palatinate, Poppy Jopson and Josh Mckenna, members of the campaign and ECO DU, said that the end of the campaign was “to get the University to adopt an ethical career policy”.

“We want to get the university to adopt an ethical career policy”

Poppy johnson and josh mckenna

They also went on to say that the University has already supported environmental policy in the past, highlighting its support for divesting fully in fossil fuels previously, meaning they were simply “rehashing old arguments”. 

When asked about the motivation for the campaign they said that while they were motivated by not only environmental concerns but their concern for students entering jobs they say are “dead ends”. 

“If we want to have a liveable future, which I think we are going towards the transitioning stage, these companies can’t exist, like training people to work in fossil fuels…making sure there aren’t more people going into these jobs so they don’t have to transition.”

However, both were realistic about the time frame of the proposal. While they both thought “sooner we can get it the better”, they both recognised that the campaign was new and therefore still needed to figure out “the set path” to reach the goal.

Both were confident though that the policy could be put in place by the end of the year.

“[We want to make sure] there aren’t people going into (these) jobs, so they don’t have to transition [out of them]”

In a statement to Palatinate, Jack Ballingham, Durham SU Opportunities Officer, said “I was very happy to support Eco DU’s motion at Assembly – it’s a great example of student campaigning at Durham and I fully agree with its arguments. 

“I’ll be raising fossil-free careers at the December meeting of the University’s sustainability group, and I hope the University will be willing to engage with students on this important issue.”

In an email sent to all SU members, it has also now been confirmed that “ECO DU and the SU will be raising it (the motion)” at the next sustainability meeting. 

This support, however, was not shared by all in the Assembly. William Brown, Member of the Assembly for Trevelyan College, spoke against the motion, saying that it would “make it more difficult for my constituents to enter the careers they want to enter”, especially since students were “more than capable, as educated, intelligent adults of deciding whether working in the oil and gas sector conforms with their moral beliefs”. 

He went on to highlight that “a huge proportion of the renewables sector is owned by major fossil fuel companies”. This claim was dismissed by ECO DU as greenwashing. 

Image: Tim Packer

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