This feature was originally published in our 2018/19 print edition (March 29).
THINK ABOUT THE PLANET JANET!
Our University currently invests £11,812,131 in fossil fuels. This includes £3.8m in BP, £3.1m in Shell, and £2.2m in BHP Billiton. There has been no commitment to divestment. This is despite an ‘Environmental Policy Statement’ in which our Vice-Chancellor Janet Beer claims the university is dedicated to managing its operations in ways that are ‘environmentally sustainable’. This is clearly mouth service from our grossly overpaid VC, and behind her the University continues to profit from the destruction of the planet. In our name.
Here at The Sphinx we represent a broad range of views. But there’s no nuance when it comes to saving our planet. We’ve dedicated the first few pages of our print edition to a feature on climate change, how our University is failing in the area, and what you can do to help.
£12m in Fossil Fuels: Students Demand University of Liverpool Divest
By Anna Scott, News Editor
51 UK Universities have cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry. But University of Liverpool is not one of them. With nearly £12m invested in fossil fuel companies, our University is not doing all it can to reduce the devastating impacts of climate change. The Liverpool Guild of Students launched the Fossil Free Campaign in 2019, demanding total divestment from this harmful industry.
The Guild summarise the aims of the Fossil Free Campaign:
“The Fossil Free campaign, launched in January, aims to ensure the University of Liverpool stops investing their endowment fund in oil and gas companies, to have permanent student representation on the investment sub-committee and to refuse research contract with fossil fuel companies.”
The Fossil Free Campaign here in Liverpool has taken inspiration from the Global fossil fuel divestment movement, which has been campaigning since 2011.
Since then institutions from all over the world have pledged to withdraw investments, together worth $7.93 trillion, from fossil fuel extractor industries.
2018 was characterised by extreme tropical storms, deadly wildfires and rising sea levels. These events are almost universally agreed to be driven by human induced climate change. As 71% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 has been caused by just 100 fossil fuel extractor companies, the Guild’s believes that we must hold these companies accountable.
Throughout the UK, Universities collectively give £1,804 per student to fossil fuel companies. As an investor in the fossil fuel industry, the University of Liverpool is part of this problem. Recognising this, the University of Liverpool has recently made their first steps towards sustainable investment. Their new Ethical Investment Policy promises to divest from thermal coal and tar sands. But the Guild’s Fossil Free Campaign does not believe that this policy goes far enough. Other UK Universities have set a precedent. Sheffield, Newcastle and Bristol are all fully divested, proving that this shift is possible. The Fossil Free Campaign wants the University of Liverpool to be next.
It’s time that University of Liverpool put their money where their mouth is. 2019 could mark the year that our University decides to make more ethical, climate conscious investment decisions. With your engagement, University of Liverpool could become the 52nd institution to divest, becoming Fossil Free for good.
UoL is Betraying its Own Students (Opinion)
By Olly Wicks
This climate change situation is a matter of life and death. Millions of people’s homes in places like Bangladesh will literally end up underwater and massive migration crises will be triggered. Droughts will turn good soil into desert, leading to famine. Extreme weather events will become more common and more dangerous. Water shortages will lead to wars for survival. Animals, plants and habitats that we know and love will disappear forever. And it is our generation that’s going to have to face these issues.
“There will be more flooding, more drought, more disease, more famine and more war, creating hundreds of millions of refugees and causing the destruction of entire ecosystems and species.”– Greenpeace
So, why does the fossil fuel industry still get away with causing climate change? Why are we hearing talk of drilling in the arctic for yet more oil? Why aren’t people focusing on green alternatives? The answer, unfortunately, is money.
The industry is still profitable, so the fossil fuel companies continue to gain vast investments. Investing in fossil fuels is selfish, short-sighted and narrow minded. It is inexcusable but because it’s profitable, it carries on.
It makes me so angry that the University of Liverpool is one of these investors. It’s funding climate change. Funding the transformation of the ecosystems on which we depend into wastelands. Funding sea level rise, droughts and hurricanes. Funding migration crises, famine and war.
I’m ashamed that my own university, the institution responsible for helping me to find my place in the world, is investing millions of pounds into an industry that is bringing about a world era of carnage and destruction.
It’s time to stand up and tell them no. Sign the petition. Write to our Vice Chancellor. Post about it on social media. Make placards. Do whatever you can. We shouldn’t be subjected to such a dangerous planet by the very institution that is responsible for our futures.
It’s time for the University of Liverpool join the 51 UK universities that have already decided to commit to divesting from fossil fuels. That commitment can’t come soon enough.