By Becky Wilson
Durham University People and Planet Society has launched a petition to end the University’s investment in the fossil fuel industry.
The society accuses Durham University of “putting profit before the climate.” Durham is one of the many UK educational institutions to invest up to £6.6 billion a year in fossil fuel companies.
The petition calls on Durham to follow in the footsteps of Glasgow University, which last month became the first UK university to commit to divesting from the industry.
As part of the international ‘Fossil Free’ campaign, the online petition asks the University to shift its funds to “positive, ethical investments” within five years.
The society adds: “Given the massive amounts of damage fossil fuel companies do to the lives of people around the world, the obvious environmental costs of the industry and the long term instability of fossil fuels as an investment, [we] are calling on the university to divest any money it has invested in fossil fuel companies and to add fossil fuels to the list of things in which it will not invest in the future.”
Durham already has a policy that states it will not invest in arms or tobacco companies.
This petition comes after Durham Students for University Reform put ten proposals to the University last month. Amongst other proposals, this document requested that the University divest from fossil fuel companies.
Professor Ray Hudson, Acting Vice-Chancellor at Durham University said: “Durham University is committed to reducing its environmental impact and improving the local environment.
“We have no plans to withdraw from investing in or engaging in research financed by fossil fuel companies.
“The issue of carbon emissions is hugely complex and significant for the future of our planet, but we recognise that there are no viable alternatives to fossil fuels yet available at the scale required for the predominant forms of current energy use, i.e. heat and transport.
“In addition, fossil fuels underpin modern food production methods, through the use of fertilisers, and the chemical and process industries which produce a vast array of plastic and pharmaceutical products.
“We will continue to engage with the fossil fuel and other industries in carrying out research on alternative, sustainable geoenergy resources such as geothermal and CCS.”
The petition is available to view here .
Illustration: Mariam Hayat