Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Students occupy Edinburgh University in protest at fossil fuels stance

Charles Stewart House Image copyright Edinburgh People and Planet

At least 30 students are occupying an Edinburgh University building in protest at its "failure to commit" to divestment from fossil fuels.

On Tuesday, the institution said it would continue investing in companies that produce fossil fuels, but would work with them to reduce emissions.

The students said calls for divestment had received "overwhelming support" during the consultation process.

They have occupied an administration building in Chambers Street.

Charles Stewart House is home to the university's finance department.

'Urgent threat'

The students said the university invested £9m in fossil fuel companies including BP, Shell and BHP Billiton.

Kirsty Haigh, student campaigner with Edinburgh People and Planet, said: "Despite the overwhelming support for fossil fuel divestment in a public consultation, the university have proved they are in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry.

"Climate change is the most urgent threat the world is facing, and Tuesday's announcement tells us the university is not taking it seriously enough.

Image copyright Twitter

"For the past three years every piece of evidence we've provided, and their own consultation, proved that students, staff and alumni want full divestment.

"Our university claims to be a leader in sustainability but today have clearly proved this is not the case."

The university had established a Fossil Fuels Review Group to look into the issue.

Announcing the changes to its policy on Tuesday, the university said its choices had not been limited to no change or pulling out of all investments.

It said it would use its research activities and "responsible investment" to work with companies to reduce their emissions.

'Responsible investment'

An Edinburgh University spokesman said: "The university fully supports the right of all students to protest lawfully and peacefully.

"The student body has been represented throughout Edinburgh's fossil fuels investment policy discussions.

"As announced on Tuesday, the university will use its research activities and responsible investment to work with companies to reduce their emissions.

"Through its commitment to responsible investment the university will seek to change the behaviour of the companies in which it invests - in the fossil fuels sector and in all other sectors - by requiring them to report on their emissions and by benchmarking them according to best performance in their sector.

"In addition, the university will focus specifically on companies involved in the extraction of the highest carbon-emitting fossil fuels, coal and tar sands.

"The university will divest from these companies if realistic alternative sources of energy are available and the companies involved are not investing in technologies that help address the effects of carbon emissions and climate change.

"Through its research activity and its teaching the university will continue to explore alternative sources of renewable energy and develop low carbon technologies."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites