Universities told by FXU and activists: “declare a climate emergency”

By Alex Welsford |

“If progress is not rapid, we’ll be back” | Divest Penryn

Five students from Divest Penryn, who call for “rapid divestment from fossil fuels”, dropped a banner over the top of the Stannary building on Penryn Campus on the 2nd May.

Tallis Baker, a Divest Penryn activist, stated, “universities should be bold and lead the way” in reducing carbon emissions, which she believes, “starts with divesting from fossil fuels and declaring a climate emergency”.

No charges were pressed and no arrests made | Divest Penryn

The police were called to the campus, but no arrests were made, and the group are believed to have worn harnesses and were “safely tied to the roof”.

Divest Penryn claim that “The University of Exeter produces leading climate science” but still invests “more than £2 million in fossil fuel companies”.

“We took action today to send a loud and clear message to Sir Steve Smith the Vice-Chancellor: Stop Funding Climate breakdown” | Divest Penryn

In further news, the FXU Presidents and Green Committee have launched two petitions and published an open letter asking Falmouth and Exeter universities to, “declare a climate emergency and to commit to taking proactive action on tackling climate change”.

Addressed to the Vice Chancellors of each university, the petitions and open letters urge both institutions to commit to, “becoming carbon neutral by at least 2030”, a demand shared by Divest Penryn, as well as Extinction Rebellion and the UK Student Climate Network.

… There appears to be a growing mainstream consensus on climate change; the issue spans the political divide …

This action came during the same week that Parliament declared a symbolic “climate and environment emergency”. MPs endorsed the motion without a vote, with the government and opposition appearing to reach some agreement on the issue.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who proposed the motion, said that acting on climate change “is our historic duty”, and Michael Gove, the environment secretary, called for a cross-party approach.

There appears to be a growing mainstream consensus on climate change; the issue spans the political divide, and it was revealed this week that two thirds of the British public agree that there is a climate emergency, and more than a quarter of adults would vote differently to combat climate change.

Westminster’s decision to declare a symbolic climate emergency followed a similar declaration from the Welsh Government on the 29th April. Welsh rural affairs minister, Lesley Griffiths, expressed hope that the move would, “trigger a wave of action at home and internationally”.

If you would like more information on the FXU’s open letter and petitions, please click here.