Protestors demand University divestment from Barclays

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Durham student groups, such as ECO DU and Durham Sustainable Investment Society, jointly organised a climate protest to demand that the University divest from Barclays and declare a Climate Emergency.

The ‘Durham’s Dirty Banking’ protest, which was held outside the Bill Bryson Library on 12th November, was organised by student environmental lobbying group ECO DU in coordination with over 11 University groups, including the Students’ Union.

Last year, the Students’ Union Assembly voted in favour of boycotting Barclays due to its poor environmental record, but the University has continued to use the bank. Barclays has financed $145 billion in fossil fuels between 2016 and 2020, making it Europe’s biggest financier of fossil fuels according to the Rainforest Action Network. ECO DU is calling for the University to cease its use of Barclays by the start of the next academic year.

The protest, which will feature speeches from student organisations, is also being held to put pressure on the University to declare a climate emergency and to stop hosting companies involved in the fossil fuel industry at recruiting and networking events.

The University told Palatinate: “Since July 2018, the University has had no investments in companies involved in the extraction of fossil fuels. We took the decision to withdraw investments from such companies following a full consultation with our staff, students and alumni – the Durham University Commission on divestment from Companies Involved in Fossil Fuel Extraction.”

This decision followed in the footsteps of 61 UK Universities that had previously made similar promises, and was made following a year-long consultation with staff and students, four-fifths of whom were found to support divestment.

More than 160 UK Universities have already called a climate emergency, but Durham is yet to.

Tom Lovegrove, one of the ECO DU members organising the protest told Palatinate: “As students at the University we have the right to demand that our University uses a bank that reflects the values it stands for.”

One protestor told Palatinate that the protest is “due to the University’s broken promises and complicity in failing to act on climate change.

“For years, Durham has chosen Barclays as their bank. Barclays, who have directly funded over 100 billion into fossil fuel extraction or related activities since 2015, and billions in this year alone. As a students’ union, almost two years ago now, we decided to boycott Barclays on these grounds. Yet the university has done nothing. Despite it being our fees and our voices they should represent, our university continues to support such practices.

“In striking today, we’re demanding that the university stops using Barclays, declares a climate emergency as the student body has already done, and actually support the values it supposedly stands by.”

Image: Durham SU

Image: Eco DU

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