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Friday, April 17, 2015


From the Rockefeller family to the World Council of Churches, from Mary Robinson to Desmond Tutu, fossil fuel divestment is the fastest growing social movement of our times. The university is the surprising flashpoint for its realisation. Universities occupy an unusually important place in our societies. They are creators of knowledge about the effects of fossil fuels on our communities. But they can also be moral leaders in civic and political affairs. In 2014, the University of Glasgow became the first university in Europe to divest its stake in fossil fuels, after a 12-month campaign by 1300 students and faculty. The School of Oriental and African Studies in London has put a temporary freeze on its investments. Some universities have stumbled. Oxford has deferred its decision. Last month, University College London (UCL) became the latest higher education institution to debate its options. Convened by Anthony Costello, who led The Lancet's 2009 Commission on Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change, the motion was to the point: “Should UCL divest from fossil fuels and sell its £21 million invested in the industry?”

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