Student protesters have staged a Halloween ‘die-in’ at University College London (UCL) as part of on-going demands for the university to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
Demonstrators lay on the floor outside Provost Michael Arthur’s office, pretending to be dead as a visual metaphor for the people that die every year due to climate change and pollution.
Messages pinned onto student clothing included: “300,000 climate change deaths a year and counting”, and “UCL: researching climate change, teaching climate change, funding climate change”
Campaign group Fossil Free UCL, who organised the protest, have labelled UCL heads “hypocrites” for advocating green energy values while investing £14.4 million into fossil fuel companies including Shell, BP and Total – reportedly making a loss of £1.25 million through them.
A study funded and published by UCL’s Institute for Sustainable Resources concluded that if global temperatures were to stay below the 2 degree international target, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves andover 80 per cent of the worldd’s coal reserves would have to remain unused by 2050.
Chanting “UCL UCL, don't put us in climate hell”, campaigners described the fossil fuel industry as “murderous” and “destructive”.
A Fossil Free UCL spokesperson said: “We believe universities being complicit in human rights abuses and aiding climate change, which is already causing around 300,000 deaths a year according to UN estimates, is shocking and not at all acceptable.
“UCL presents itself as a global and ethical university,” but its investments in companies that have utter contempt for the environment and the rights of environmental activists show otherwise.”
So far, 27 UK universities have altered their policies on fossil fuel investments, with a growing number facing pressures to disassociate completely, including Oxford University, the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics.
SOAS secured divestment last year after 18 months of campaigning from students and staff.
The Provost’s office confirmed that the Provost was not at UCL during the Protest and said that “people are free to protest peacefully at UCL.”
A UCL spokesperson said, “UCL’s investment policy has always included an ethical dimension, the application of which has previously resulted in the exclusion, for example, of any investment in tobacco.
“At the same time our objective is to preserve the real value of the portfolio over the long term and achieve a set level of income.
“The policy agreed by UCL Council will enable us to maintain our commitment to achieving both of these objectives.”
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