PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

University of Warwick Divests From Fossil Fuels

Today 8th July – The University of Warwick’s University Council committed to divesting from fossil fuels, after two years of student and staff calls for the university to get out of coal, oil and gas.

Campaigners rejoiced as Warwick followed Glasgow, Bedfordshire, SOAS, Oxford, Edinburgh and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Disease to become the seventh university in the UK to pledge some form of fossil fuel divestment.

Dan Goss, a student campaigner from Fossil Free Warwick University, said: “We are all delighted that Warwick has brought its investments in line with its professed values, and heeded the call of the democratic majority. This decision testifies to two long years of campaigning by Fossil Free Warwick. We’re overjoyed by this victory – but it’s just the beginning. Divestment is the spring board for a united front against the fossil fuel industry globally and on campuses.”

Members from University Council met today in the Shard, London to make a strategic decision on continuing to invest in fossil fuels. The University of Warwick currently holds a £14 million endowment, £1 million of which is represented by oil, gas and coal companies. During the course of their three hour meeting, a motion was passed through Council committing the University to replace existing funds with investments in fossil-free index related funds. They have committed to divesting as soon as such a fund becomes available, by pledging to conduct an annual review. It is expected that such funds will be available imminently, and certainly within the year.

Cat Turhan, Warwick SU President said in response to the universities statement: “Divestment is the act of moving your money away from the fossil fuel industry. Warwick’s statement commits them to take up any financially viable fossil free fund that becomes available. These are expected to emerge imminently, certainly within the year, and Warwick’s divestment would quickly follow. There is no question that this is a complete win for the Fossil Free Warwick campaign, and that it commits the University to full divestment in the near future.”

Campaigners from the group Fossil Free Warwick University, a local offshoot of the national organisation People and Planet [1], have spent the past two years lobbying their University’s financial managers to fully divest from fossil fuels, and welcome these steps to break ties with some of the world’s biggest polluters.

Andrew Taylor Fossil Free Campaigns Manager at People & Planet said: “Warwick’s decision is another clear signal that any university that doesn’t divest is going against the tide. Any institution with a moral compass should be turning their backs on the fossil fuel industry now.”

Since the formation of the group in 2013, 65% of the student population has voted in favour of fossil fuel divestment [2]. The campaign has also submitted letters from all of the Students Union’s sabbatical officers [3], 100 members of staff, and approximately 1,500 students [4], calling for the institution to take a stand against climate change and divest from fossil fuels.

Michael Niblett, a member of staff from the Department for Caribbean Studies, said: “The university’s decision to divest from fossil fuels is hugely welcome. It represents both an important victory on the part of those campaigning for divestment and a significant step in the struggle to de-legitimize and ‘de-naturalize’ our addiction to fossil fuels. The upcoming U.N. climate change conference in Paris will, once again, seek to secure a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change from all nations. That such an agreement has still to be settled after years of prolonged negotiations is a stinging indictment of the failure of global leadership on this issue. Clearly it will be up to others, working at multiple scales through campaigns such as Fossil Free, to carry the fight and change the way individuals and institutions behave.”

The University of Manchester is also expected to make a decision on divestment today. The University of Manchester currently invests over £9.5 million in shares in six of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies, including BP, Shell and Glencoe Xstrata.

Yesterday around 100 Manchester University staff including author Jeanette Winterson and the outspoken Professor of Energy and Climate Change Kevin Anderson wrote an letter saying: “We believe this is a tremendous opportunity for the University of Manchester to demonstrate decisive and forward-thinking leadership on one of the most pressing global issues of our time… We hope you will give serious consideration to our students’ demands that the university commits to freezing new investment in fossil fuel companies and divesting within five years from the top 200 fossil fuel companies that control the majority of carbon reserves.”

Fossil fuel divestment is the fastest-growing divestment movement in history and is continuing to gain momentum [5]. Around 200 institutions globally, with a combined asset size of over $50 billion, have committed to divest, including the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the British Medical Association, and the Church of England [6].

[ENDS]

Contacts:
Connor Woodman 07954402113 c.d.w.woodman@warwick.ac.uk
Sophie Monk 07703780565 sophiemonk0@gmail.com
Notes:
[1] People & Planet is Britain’s largest student network campaigning on environmental justice and human rights coordinates the UK university fossil fuel divestment movement. Over the past 18 months, students in the People & Planet network have launched over 65 Fossil Free campaigns across the UK, engaging over 30,000 students. See http://peopleandplanet.org/fossil-free
[6] For a full list of all the institutions that have divested, see http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/

Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6enh73e3okmwahf/AAC0zxITNbnGBf5kSL7HL5xHa?dl=0

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WE WON: Warwick Divests!

Today, the University of Warwick has announced that it will divest from fossil fuels.

After two long years of campaigning, organising and gathering widespread support, this is a huge victory for Fossil Free Warwick. We are deeply grateful to our Sabbatical Officers Cat Turhan and Rob Anckorn for working tirelessly on this issue in Council.

As the planet hurtles towards 2 degree warming, it is more important now than ever for universities to dissolve their ties with the fossil fuel industry and thereby remove its social license to operate. The university is no place for the fossil fuel industry, which is on track to destroy the future of its students and defy the research of its academics.

This win is a testament to what we can achieve when we organise collectively and unite around a common passion. We have lobbied, we have demonstrated, we have marched… and now we have won!

But the fight against the fossil fuel industry and for climate justice is not over yet. There remain plenty of frontiers on our university campuses that the fossil fuel industry still occupy and its power is still pervasive. The University of Warwick’s Modern Records Centre still hosts the BP Archive, where key research into renewable technologies is being concealed from the public, contrary to the BP Chairman’s recent statements. A great proportion of our campus is owned by the automotive industry, notorious for its support of climate change denialism and stalling of mitigation strategy.

Nor is this a complete victory for the University’s democratic channels. Throughout our campaign, we have been repeatedly sidelined and excluded from decision-making processes. We cannot forget that only six months ago, police were called onto campus where they used violence to repress peaceful student protest. The student movement still has a long way to go, but we are ready for what the future holds and we are more determined than ever.

Fossil Free Warwick meets weekly during term time, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter. This is just the beginning, and the fight for climate justice spans the globe. Join us in the next phase of our campaign.

PRESS RELEASE: https://fossilfreewarwick.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/press-release-for-immediate-release/

WE WON: Warwick Divests!

UPDATE: MARCH ON THE SHARD

We’ve just received news that the University Council’s pre-meeting dinner tomorrow (Tuesday) has been cancelled. Our planned March on the Shard was designed to coincide with the dinner, to demonstrate students’ unwavering support for divestment and create a presence decision makers can’t ignore.

We will still be marching, 4PM at Temple.

We are now also calling for a picket at the Council meeting at 10AM on Wednesday outside the Shard, along with the march the day before.

Management have already selected a venue for the decision 100 miles away from the student populace. It’s possible that they have decided to cancel the planned dinner due to our scheduled march. We were informed that ‘costs’ caused them to cancel the pre-meeting dinner. However, it seems highly unlikely that management suddenly realised the cost of putting up Council members in London accommodation. The timing of the announcement and manner in which it was carried out suggests a tactical cancellation, although this isn’t immediately provable. At the least, they appear to have withheld telling us about the cancellation until the last minute, hoping to cause us confusion.

Additionally, contrary to all reasonable expectations, Fossil Free Warwick representatives have been denied a place in the Council meeting. We will therefore be unable to directly argue our case in the meeting, and have been deprived of access to this ‘democratic channel’.

We strongly urge all in London to attend these actions. Stand in solidarity with us and those in the global South most devastated by the continued collusion of our universities with the fossil fuel industry, and help us pressure the Council into divesting.

UPDATE: MARCH ON THE SHARD

Why are we marching on the Shard on July 7th?

Untitled 2 Sophie Monk

As you may already know, People & Planet has called a march on the Shard on July 7th. Fossil Free campaigners from over the country will be assembling at Temple Place at 4pm, and marching across the city to London’s tallest skyscraper, where Warwick University Councillors will be meeting for a formal dinner on the eve of their decision on fossil fuel divestment.

Why exactly we are marching on the Shard is, on one level, very simple. We want the University of Warwick to join Glasgow, Bedfordshire, SOAS, Oxford, Edinburgh and London School of Hygiene and Medicine and become the seventh university in the UK to commit to some form of fossil fuel divestment. But in another sense, the timing, location and angle of our campaign co-ordinates around a collective desire to crush the University’s deep-set relationship with an industry that is destroying our planet, displacing thousands worldwide, and reinforcing the capitalist hegemony under which we live.

So why are we marching? Why the Shard? Why now? Here is some clarification:

1. It’s now or never. You might wonder why we have elected to march on the 7th, rather than the 8th, the day of Warwick’s actual decision. The reason is largely that we want to strike while there is still enough time to be heard and for our message to sink in. We have an opportunity and we need to take it.

Rather than descending out of the blue to either claim victory on the 8th or escalate demonstratively against Council’s failure, we want the future of this campaign to be tied to a timeline of escalating intensity so that nobody can say that we haven’t been present throughout this process, despite the University’s best efforts.

2. We need University management to hear us. Since the Fossil Free campaign was born at Warwick at the beginning of the 2013 academic year, it has navigated every democratic channel available to us. We passed a motion through our Students Union, wherein 65% of the student body supported divestment from fossil fuels. We have submitted letters to the University signed by all of our Sabbatical Officers, 100 members of University staff and approx. 1,500 students. We have attended meetings with finance managers, treasurers and upper management. We have leafletted tirelessly, we have compiled our own research brief, we have made our arguments with clarity and accuracy.

And yet, the fight against our University’s entanglements with fossil fuels has been an uphill battle. Every opportunity of engagement with finance committees and Council has been pushed back and back, until the final decision is now scheduled for 8th July, conveniently outside of term time. Our emails have been ignored, and promises of our attendance at these meetings revoked. At our sit-in in June, members of Council fled through a secret exit of the building so as not to confront us picketing the main exit to the Council chamber. It’s fair to say that the University have done a good job of excluding, stalling and sidelining us. We now need a form of protest that can’t be ignored. Which is why everyone attending the march is invited to bring instruments, pots and pans, horns, megaphones, their loudest voices to the foot of the Shard as Councillor’s arrive, so that they will literally hear the cry for divestment ringing in their ears.

3. The Shard is the perfect location.

Warwick Business School has recently built a new campus on the 17th floor of the Shard, as part of the logic of relentless development that has seen campus look much like a construction site for the best part of this year, and plans to expand into new frontiers in the Californian desert – an exercise that would be laughable if it weren’t so horribly unsustainable.

Warwick’s new home in the Shard is indicative of its rampant corporatisation. The new site will see the business school (which is now listed under ‘Companies’ on the Shard website) rub shoulders directly with the fossil fuel industry, including names such as IO Oil & Gas, South Hook. But as well as being a symbolic site of the neoliberalisation of the University, the Shard is also the new venue for the University’s most important democratic processes. July 7th will see Councillors assemble for a formal presentation and dinner, and re-assemble on the 8th for July Council, which will be discussing a motion on divesting from fossil fuels. The University has chosen a sleek, (some might say sterile), off-campus location to make this key decision which – as the past few years have proven – matters a great deal to students. If they won’t come to us, we’ll have to go to them.

Join us on the 7th as we march on the Shard! Facebook event here.

Why are we marching on the Shard on July 7th?