On Thursday UCL Council decided not to divest the £12.2 million it has invested in the fossil fuel industry.
The council, chaired by Dame DeAnne Julius, a former chief economist for Shell, acts as UCL’s “governing body” and is responsible for approving all of UCL’s business decisions. In the meeting, on Thursday, they discussed the possibility of divestment but ultimately decided to keep the investments.
Prior to the meeting, Fossil Free UCL had 11 days of escalating protests against UCL’s continuing investment in the fossil fuel industry. The group would like UCL to move the £12.2 million it has invested in the fossil fuel industries and re-invest it in “renewable energy and green technology.”
Their most notable act was to climb up on to the Provost’s balcony and graffiti his window with slogans such as “Divest Now.” Three of the protesters even remained on the balcony through the night, so that they could see the Provost read their messages in the morning.
However, Fossil Free UCL’s protests do not seem to have been enough to change the council’s mind. In contrast, on the 9th of March, KCL agreed to divest from the fossil fuel industry by 2022, in direct response to escalating student protests.
Unfortunately, Pi is unable to access the minutes of the council meeting, so we do not know exactly why the council has decided against divesting. However, in the past, they have decided that continuing to invest in the fossil fuel industry is a financially lucrative decision. There are also fears that divesting could hurt funding to the university, especially to the Engineering department, as it receives sponsorships from fossil fuel companies such as BP.
In a statement published on their Facebook page, Fossil Free said that “UCL has blood on its hand- and the Council’s [decision] makes us all complicit.” They went on to promise that they “will persist until [UCL] divests.”
So far 48 UK universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and LSE, have committed to divesting from the fossil fuel industry.
Featured Image: UCL Fossil Free