Students wearing masks depicting world leaders play football on Senate House lawn CAMBRIDGE ZERO CARBON SOCIETY/FACEBOOK

Cambridge Zero Carbon Society held a football-themed protest on the Senate House lawn at 11am this morning, calling for the University Council to uphold the Regent House motion to fully divest from Fossil Fuels.

Led by Zero Carbon, a group of approximately twenty students invaded the Senate House lawn to the Match of the Day theme tune and wearing masks with the faces of world leaders, for a ‘Climate Kickabout’. "The action today was a way of highlighting that world leaders are willing to play games with the planet, and Cambridge shouldn't be complicit in this," a Zero Carbon spokesperson said.

The event, which was streamed on Facebook Live, criticised the University Council for failing to adhere to the requirements of a Regent House motion which resolved that “that none of the University’s Endowment Funds should be invested directly or indirectly in companies whose business is wholly or substantially concerned with the extraction of fossil fuels”.

Posted by Cambridge Zero Carbon Society on lunes, 24 de abril de 2017
The video posted on Facebook this morningCambridge Zero Carbon Society

The grace, signed by over 140 Regent House members, cannot directly control the University’s investments. Indeed, the Council only agreed to the grace – a necessary prerequisite for its being put before Regent House – on the condition that “the Grace cannot operate as a mandate in respect of the exercise of their fiduciary responsibility for the University’s investment practices”.

The live-stream cameraperson, Eleanor Salter, criticised the University Council for refusing to liaise with Zero Carbon for a compromise. Speaking from behind the camera, she claimed that “divestment is a prudent financial decision and arguments against fiduciary duty are not only unfounded, but simply sidelining the discussion on all dirty investments and climate change”.

Mountain View

Read A short history of the University’s green investment campaigns

The protest lasted approximately 13 minutes (contravening FA rules for match length) and was relatively uneventful. Protesters adopted popular football chants, such as “we love the climate we do, oh climate we love you”, and “glory glory zero carbon”, to get their message across, as well as more traditional protest chants: “what do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now.”

A University spokesperson said: “While the University respects and upholds the right to peaceful protest, permission to protest on University land must be obtained beforehand. This was not the case in this morning’s incident, and protestors were asked to move on, which they did immediately.”

They emphasised that the Regent House Grace was advisory rather than mandatory, but said “the Council recognises the concerns around climate change” and noted that a report was to be commissioned “to understand the consequences of any divestment from fossil fuel companies, including for its teaching and research programme”.

In an article on their website this March, Zero Carbon had promised an “escalation of direct action” if the University Council did not follow through with demands for achieving divestment. In the same article, it said that the University Council’s promise of a report was not a satisfactory course of action and encouraged the University Council to publicly announce that is it [sic] committed to divestment, and that it is investigating how divestment is to be achieved. A Zero Carbon spokesperson told Varsity that the society intends to undertake more actions in the coming weeks, promising "there's a lot more to come!"