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To: Professor Paul Webley, Director of SOAS


SOAS currently holds investments in a number of fossil fuel companies--including Shell, BP and BHP Billiton--that are repeat violators of human rights and the largest direct contributors to climate change. This is in direct contravention of SOAS' ethical investment policy against companies that have violated human rights, and its guiding principles committing it to promote good environmental practice. SOAS students, staff and alumni have joined together to demand that SOAS comply with its values and policies by removing its investments in fossil fuels.
We call on SOAS to:
1. Honour SOAS’ own ethical investment policy by removing its investments in companies that have breached human rights, including Shell, BP and BHP Billiton.
2. Remove its investments from companies engaged in the fossil fuel industry, and explicitly commit to excluding these types of investments in the future.
3. Actively commit to investing in low-carbon assets and renewable energy.

Why is this important?

If you think we have a lot of poverty, conflict and injustice in the world today, imagine a world with 4 degrees C of global warming. This is where we are headed by the end of this century, according to the most recent projections, if we carry on emitting CO2 the way we are now. [1]

Those who will be hit hardest and first live in countries of the Global South, which lack the resources to adapt to this dramatic change in climate. Yet these people have made virtually no contribution to this problem. The responsibility for these emissions, and the power to reduce them, lies with the industrialised economies of the Global North. So far, we have failed to take action. Our governments and institutions continue to invest vast sums in companies extracting oil and gas, giving them huge public subsidies that have helped to make them the most profitable companies in the world.

SOAS is famous for our passion for promoting the peoples and cultures of Africa and Asia. Yet when faced with the problem of climate change, which poses the greatest threat in human history to those very peoples and cultures, SOAS too has failed to take action. SOAS still holds investments in a number of fossil fuel companies. We need to shift our money away from these companies today if we are to have any hope of preventing climate disaster.

By divesting from fossil fuels, SOAS will join dozens of other universities, religious institutions and local governments across the world that have already committed to going fossil free. Together, we can make a substantial dent in the financial support that the fossil fuel industry needs to survive. We will also send an important signal to our governments and private sector about the urgent moral and financial imperative of shutting down fossil fuels. In doing this, we form part of an illustrious history of university divestment campaigns shifting public opinion on the great moral issues of our day-- from the anti-apartheid campaigns of the 1980s to SOAS’ own divestment from the arms trade in 2005.

“To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific and see the impacts of rising sea levels… to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned… to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death … And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.”
-Philippines delegate Yeb Sano at the opening of the UN climate negotiations on 13 November 2013, before embarking on a hunger strike

SOAS, University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies)

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2014-11-09 09:02:58 -0500

1,000 signatures reached

2014-03-04 09:38:36 -0500

500 signatures reached

2013-11-25 19:39:35 -0500

100 signatures reached

2013-11-25 11:04:15 -0500

50 signatures reached

2013-11-25 08:03:36 -0500

25 signatures reached

2013-11-25 04:58:12 -0500

10 signatures reached