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To: UCL Provost Michael Arthur and UCL Council


Overall UCL should:
1) immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies
2) commit to divesting (with ethical considerations regarding re-investment) from the top 200 fossil fuel companies (by reserves).

UCL’s guiding principles state that ‘UCL will conduct itself ethically and fairly, and in an environmentally sustainable manner, locally, nationally and globally [1]. As of December 2012, UCL has investments in BG Group PLC, BHP Billiton, BP PLC, Cairn Energy PLC, Occidental Petroleum Corp, Rio Tinto, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Total S.A. and Xstrata PLC [2]- all of which are part of of the world’s 200 largest fossil fuel companies, by proven carbon reserves [3]. These fossil fuel companies, with others, are driving the global climate crisis. We believe these investments go against UCL’s guiding principles, policies, research, education, and commitments to environmental sustainability and ethical responsibility. UCL must break ties with the fossil fuel industry and lead the way towards a decarbonised society.

We want UCL to:

- Identify and publicly report all financial ties, contracts and agreements with the fossil fuel industry including direct and indirect (e.g. via banks and co-mingled funds) investments, sponsorship and advertising agreements, and research funding.
- Report on agreements and contracts with the fossil fuel industry, which should identify their start and end dates, whether they are renewed or new ties, as well as the date of negotiated termination.
- Regularly post these reports online (as opposed to being available on request), in an accessible, easily understood format, and be provided throughout the process, not just at the end.
- Publish the raw data behind all of these reports for independent analysis.

- End current investments in fossil fuel companies immediately and shift funds to lower risk, ethical investments.
- Make no future investments or partnerships with fossil fuel companies.

- Review point 6 in UCL’s Investment Policy [4] which allows bad ethical criteria for research partnerships to corrupt UCL’s ethical investment criteria. A decision not to invest in a company for ethical reasons should start a process of breaking research partnerships rather than being prevented by those research partnerships.
- Commit to not give honorary degrees or fellowships to fossil fuel industry executives.

- Create a dedicated team within UCL for these tasks involving student union representatives (e.g. the Ethics & Environment officers) and members of relevant student societies.
- Maintain regular communication with the whole UCL community including through regular, widely publicised open meetings.
- Set and publish timelines for completion of all demands, including regular progress reports and an analysis of potential risks and causes of delay, all of which are easily accessible online, not just by request.
- Publicise UCL’s divorce from the fossil fuel industry with the intention of encouraging other institutions to follow suit.

Why is this important?

Climate change has already caused millions to lose their lives and livelihoods after only one degree of global average warming [5]. ‘Business as usual’ scenarios see us facing up to six degrees of warming and hundreds of millions suffering. It’s time to take this problem on at its source: the fossil fuel companies. If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. UCL cannot continue to use its funds from students, alumni, trusts and grant-making bodies to fund fossil fuel companies through its portfolio of investments.

UCL's academics show a strong consensus on the effects of climate change, taking it into account in their research and making constructive proposals for how we can respond to and overcome it as a society. UCL is giving money to further this positive research yet chooses to invest in the fossil fuel industry, the root cause of climate change. This shows massive disrespect to their own staff, to the future of their students, and to all those around the world suffering the effects of climate change but also from the human right violations carried out by fossil fuel companies.

With 1/4 of UK universities now having divested, 16 of which in the last year, UCL is losing its chance to lead the way towards a more sustainable world, proving that management prioritises profit over the protection of the environment, the future generations and the voice of thousands of students and academic staff who support divestment. In the ultimatum letter we sent to management in November 2016 we received more than 100 signatures from academic staff who support divestment [6]. How long will management keep disregarding the views of its student body and staff? One of the few counter-arguments management has presented is that they are scared divestment would negatively affect UCL's engineering department. However there is no evidence that by divesting UCL will risk its sponsorship from fossil fuel companies and jeopardise the ties the Engineering department have with them. All other universities who have divested still maintain links with the companies with no effect on their students future relations with these companies whatsoever.

It is therefore high time we DEMOCRATISED our university and TAKE ACTION to prevent further planetary degradation. We as students, academics and above all citizens, have the power to change the world.

[2] UCL Investment Portfolio, December 2012.
[3], p.13-14.
[4] UCL Ethical Investment Policy,
[5] DARA, Climate Vulnerability Number 2010
[6] Open Letter to UCL Management

UCL, Gower Street, London, United Kingdom

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL




2016-12-19 03:48:42 -0500

We are 130 signatures away from reaching 3000. Thanks everyone for your support! If you can share it with your friends and flatmates we will be able to reach our goal before the new year's! Keep calm and go fossil free!

2014-11-09 16:27:49 -0500

1,000 signatures reached

2014-04-04 04:07:17 -0400

500 signatures reached

2013-10-08 07:57:03 -0400

100 signatures reached

2013-09-27 10:51:36 -0400

50 signatures reached

2013-09-26 12:34:41 -0400

25 signatures reached

2013-09-26 09:48:15 -0400

Want to get involved? Here's a list of what you can do right now to get UCL's attention:

2013-09-26 08:38:02 -0400

10 signatures reached