Harvard and UCL students ramp up divestment campaigns

By Megan Darby

In Boston, students are taking to the courts. In London, they are resorting to blockades.

On both sides of the Atlantic, activists are ramping up calls on their universities to divest from fossil fuels.

University College London president Michael Arthur and colleagues yesterday had to climb over protesting students to get to a meeting.

Members of Fossil Free UCL were playing dead in the doorway, to send a message about the impact of burning fossil fuels on the climate.

Banners read “UCL stop killing our future” and “London’s global warming university”.

Second year politics and economics student Guin Carter described how Arthur asked security to “come remove this person” before stepping on her.

“If UCL management choose not only to invest in climate-killing fossil fuels but refuse to negotiate with those demanding change, how else do they expect us to communicate with them?”
UCL president Michael Arthur scrambles over protesters to get to a meeting (Pic: Fossil Free UCL)

UCL president Michael Arthur scrambles over protesters to get to a meeting
(Pic: Fossil Free UCL)

Explaining the physical nature of the confrontation, the campaign group accused management of closing off negotiations after months of discussion.

Pekka Piirainen, a recent UCL graduate, said: “Management’s position to our campaign is a list of empty promises in a hope that we’ll be kept quiet long enough for us to graduate and move on.

“That the campaign has expanded hugely since September shows that their cynical tactics aren’t going to work.”

A spokesperson for UCL said its Ethical Investment Review Committee is considering the campaigners’ demands.

“UCL is committed to an investment policy that is guided by ethical considerations,” the spokesperson said.

UCL has a policy not to invest in tobacco companies or Cobham, a military technology company, but has some £14 million of shares in fossil fuel companies.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

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