Protestors gathered on King’s ParadeLefteris Paparounas

Cambridge Zero Carbon Society staged a protest on Wednesday in front of King’s College Chapel, with around a dozen protesters calling on the University to withdraw its investments in fossil fuel companies.

Campaigners dressed in black set off smoke grenades and shouted through megaphones.

The protest was part of a coordinated ‘National Day of Action’, alongside similar societies at other universities including East Anglia, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, UCL, Bristol and Plymouth.

Speaking at the protest, graduate student and Zero Carbon campaigns officer Marcel Llavero Pasquina read out a manifesto, which stated: “We want a fossil free future. We want a future of respect and brotherhood. Amongst ourselves and with Mother Earth. We want the rich to have less, so that everyone can have.

“We want that in the next two decades all fossil fuel extraction is phased out and renewable energies power our daily simple lives. And we are all united in this transition. No one is left behind. We have no leaders. Our dreams guide us.

“Let’s start with our University. Let’s be the first ones.”

Protesters also expressed their objections to the “xenophobia and colonialism” of the fossil fuel industry, and accused the University of being “complicit in this injustice from the very beginning”.

The action comes in the wake of analysis of the Paradise Papers leak which shows that the University and several of its colleges have invested millions of pounds in fossil fuel companies through offshore funds.

The past month has seen a flurry of activity from Zero Carbon Society. In recent weeks it has staged a march through the town, and handed out soap to members of the University Council outside Senate House as part of their drive for the University to ‘come clean’.

It also interrupted an engineering, science and technology careers event hosted by the Careers Service, where protesters, dressed in black and with black paint on their hands, lay down between the Shell and BP stalls.

Today’s action also follows CUSU Council’s unanimous vote on Monday to reaffirm support for divestment.


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Opponents of the movement, including those present at the University town hall debate in October, have argued for engagement with energy companies rather than divestment, pointing to the financial benefit from the investments to the University as a whole.

A group of 21 academics has called for a discussion in Regent House, the governing body of the University, to discuss “the University’s investments, as a topic of concern to the University”. This will take place on the 5th of December.

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