We need to get our money out of fossil fuels

Friday 13-02-2015 - 15:12

Divestment is becoming one of the fastest growing social movements of all time. Today, on Global Divestment Day, over 25,000 students and staff are putting pressure on their institutions to pull their money out of fossil fuels. Have you joined the movement yet?     


Almost all climate scientists and experts agree that if we want any chance of a habitable climate, we need to stop average global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees. But if we burned all of our fossil fuel reserves, we’d be emitting five times the ‘safe’ amount of carbon. This is why we need to take on the fossil fuel industry.

I was so excited to see that the University of Glasgow was the first European institution to divest from fossil fuels earlier this year – pulling £18 million out of dirty energy investments. Since then, the University of Bedfordshire has done the same, and SOAS have frozen all future investments. We’re gathering momentum. You can expect loads more victories in the months to come – and campaigns on dozens more campuses by the end of the year.

The fossil fuel industry is becoming increasingly desperate. The dash to frack for shale gas is underway – and it’s something which will affect communities across the UK, including students. At UClan Students’ Union, students are getting educated and organised over the two proposals to frack currently being considered by the council in Lancashire. As the fossil fuel majors push right to the edge of our campuses, it’s more important than ever to take action. Divestment is a huge part of that.

A few people tell me that divestment doesn’t make a difference. We’ll never bankrupt the fossil fuel companies. Someone else will just buy up the stock. Our investments are just a drop in the ocean. Why bother?

This misses the point. Our movement has a proud history of taking action on critical social justice issues out of principle, and climate change should be no different. And as more and more respected organisations make a noise about divesting, it damages their social standing and shifts public opinion. It says a lot when our universities and colleges make stand.

Of course, it’s all well and good to be against something. We need to oppose those who compromise our future, for sure. But we need to be for things as well. This Global Divestment Day I want to celebrate the idea of investing in the solutions, as well as divesting from the problems. And again, it’s amazing to see students taking leadership on this, every day.

Across our campuses and communities, we’re shaping education to create a genuinely sustainable future. But we can always do more. The solutions are out there. I agree with the Act For Nature campaign when they call for an amendment to the Education Act so it makes sure environmental sustainability is at the heart of all school learning. There’s a lot which needs to be changed in that Act, but that would certainly be a start. We’re also a proud member of the Community Energy Coalition, working tirelessly to prove that renewables are a real alternative to practices like fracking. Campaigns like this are massive allies to the divestment movement.

Imagine if all the money that was pulled out of fossil fuel companies was invested in the solutions to our social, economic and environmental problems. Imagine the progress we could make. Our education sector should be leading this movement. Universities and colleges are preparing 7 million students for a sustainable future. Sadly, many of them are also undermining any chance of a sustainable future. This isn’t right. Join thousands of students in helping your campus go Fossil Free today.



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