To: Vice Chancellor David Eastwood
University of Birmingham Fossil Free
We are calling on the University of Birmingham to:
1. Move its money
- Immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies
- Screen for and exclude the fossil fuel industry from the University of Birmingham’s investment portfolio
- Divest from the fossil fuel industry and shift funds to lower risk, ethical investments by 2020
2. Support a clean energy future and green jobs
- Provide University of Birmingham students with ethical careers advice and opportunities
- Refocus research and expertise on climate solutions and phase out climate-damaging fossil fuel research
- Demand more research funding for renewables from fossil fuel companies and government
3. Stop the greenwash
- Publish full details of their financial and other ties to the fossil fuel industry
- Stop giving out honorary degrees to fossil fuel industry CEOs, such as Tony Hayward, (and start giving more to real leaders!)
- Stop accepting sponsorship and advertising from fossil fuel companies
The University of Birmingham should be:
- Recognising the risk a ‘carbon bubble’ (see report below) poses to investments;
- Freezing new investment into fossil fuels immediately;
- Transparently showing the University of Birmingham’s financial links with the fossil fuel industry; and
- Divesting from fossil fuels completely by 2020 to support a low carbon future the University of Birmingham will contribute to.
Why is this important?
"If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage." Too many UK universities, including the University of Birmingham, support the fossil fuel industry directly through their research, their endowments and investments and their partnerships with some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world, like BP, Shell and ExxonMobil.
The fossil fuel industry has a concerning amount of influence over our education, with numerous members of the university’s advisory board working for fossil fuels companies. These include Tony Hayward, former chief executive of BP and current Glencore chairman, and Lord Browne former chief executive of BP and Cuadrilla company director.
Additionally, companies affect educational programmes by funding research and professorships, such as the ExxonMobil Teaching Fellowship, formerly held by Chemical Engineering lecturers.
We believe that our educational institutions should serve the public good and live up to their promises to tackle climate change. No UK university in their right mind would accept funding from, or invest their funds into tobacco companies these days- it’s inconsistent with their research on cancer. The same holds true for fossil fuel companies causing climate change, and yet the University of Birmingham still does not recognise this. That’s about to change.
UK students have decided to take on the fossil fuel industry by getting our universities to go Fossil Free. People & Planet is joining forces with the 350.org campaign that has been sweeping across North American campuses.
200 publicly-traded companies hold the vast majority of the world’s proven coal, oil and gas reserves. Those are the companies we’ll be asking the University of Birmingham to break their links with. Together they hold five times more carbon in their fossil fuel reserves than we can safely afford to burn to stop runaway climate change.
From Canada’s dirty tar sands to Arctic drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) for shale gas - the fossil fuel industry is scraping the bottom of the barrel and causing huge environmental and human devastation in the process. Withdrawing our institutions’ financial and moral backing for this climate-wrecking industry is crucial to tackling climate change.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF FUNDING AND INVESTMENT FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM?
Renewables: most of the technology needed to make the transition from fossil fuels to renewable has already been developed and is completely viable. It is simply the cultural and social custom adopted by the energy industries that needs to change. A global power shift. http://globalpowershift.org/frequently-asked-questions-faqs/
• International Energy Agency (World Energy Outlook Special Report 2013: Redrawing The Energy Climate Map)
• Centre for Alternative Technology (Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future)
• David Mackay FRS (Sustainable Energy – without the hot air)
WHAT IS 'THE CARBON BUBBLE'?
Investing in fossil fuels is fast becoming a risky investment: London School of Economics has reported the market will collapse in the coming years. See http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/Policy/docs/PB-unburnable-carbon-2013-wasted-capital-stranded-assets.pdf
How it will be delivered
By hand to Vice Chancellor David Eastwood.