On Tuesday the 24th of January, Fossil Free UCL reached their goal of raising more 3,000 signatures for their petition demanding that UCL divestment from fossil fuels. This has made Fossil Free UCL the largest and longest running campaign in UCL history.
Fossil Free UCL was started four years ago, in October 2013, with the aim to get UCL to divest from fossil fuels. This would involve UCL selling off their £12 million investments in the fossil fuel industry including companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell and investing the money in “lower risk ethical investments”.
Fossil Free UCL’s actions, such as the “die-in” on Halloween this year (which involved students lying on the ground wearing black outside the provost’s office), have been very good at raising awareness about UCL investment in fossil fuels within the student and staff body; which is reflected in the number of signatures they have obtained for their petition.
However, despite this they have been unsuccessful in achieving their goal. Their latest meeting with the Provost, which took place late last year, ended with the Provost confirming that UCL would not be divesting from fossil fuels.
One of the reasons for this decision was that he feared divesting would impact UCL’s funding, in particular, funding for the Engineering department. The Engineering department has a number of sponsorships and ties with fossil fuel companies such as BP and UCL fears that if they divest the companies will cut ties with UCL, which would negatively impact students.
From past experience, it seems unlikely that UCL will “divest” even though the petition has reached over 3,000 signatures. However, Fossil Free UCL has vowed to “continue to campaign for the future we believe in! The fight will not stop.”
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