Edinburgh students stage sit-in after fossil fuels decision

Students angry at institution’s failure to move to full divestment

May 13, 2015

Protesters at Edinburgh attend an earlier demonstration

Students have staged a sit-in at the University of Edinburgh in response to what they described as the institution’s “reckless and irresponsible failure” to fully divest from fossil fuels.

The protesters said that they would remain at Charles Stewart House, an administration building, until the university rethinks its decision to re-evaluate its investments in the coal and tar sands industries only.

In these sectors, Edinburgh said that it will only divest if realistic alternative sources of energy are available, and the companies involved are not investing in technologies that help to address the effects of carbon emissions.

The university will also require companies in which it invests to report on their emissions and they will be benchmarked according to best performance in the sector.

Charlie Jeffrey, Edinburgh’s senior vice-principal, said that the university would “use the leverage of [its] investments to bring about change that reduces carbon emissions in the fossil fuels and other sectors”.

But the occupying students said that Edinburgh should divest fully from fossil fuels within the next five years.

“The fact that our university has chosen to continue funding environmental degradation and human suffering shows that [it] care[s] far more about profit than our futures,” said Kirsty Haigh, vice-president (communities) at NUS Scotland who is a member of Edinburgh’s People & Planet society.

“Saying there may be divestment in the future from certain companies if they fail to meet criteria around their carbon emissions is no real commitment and shows the university [is] refusing to acknowledge [its] role in devastating climate change.”

An Edinburgh 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.”

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

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