A mock wedding was held between Cambridge and Shell.Mathias Gjesdal Hammer

Cambridge Zero Carbon Society held a Valentine’s-day-themed demonstration this morning to call for more transparency in University investments, just outside the building where representatives from the University’s business and finance departments were meeting.

In the courtyard of the University’s Old Schools offices, one member, dressed as a vicar, performed a mock-wedding ceremony between a bride sporting a Cambridge crest and a groom wearing a Shell logo. He began the ceremony by announcing, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness this blessed union between Mr Shell and Miss Cambridge.”

In his speech, the ‘vicar’ called attention to the University’s hiring of David Hughes as its new Director of Finance – a former employee of the multinational oil company Shell.

He added: “You’d think a dowry payment was a thing of the past, but the University recently received a donation of £250,000 from Shell.”

This figure appears to be an incorrect reference to a recent $240,000 donation by Shell to support the Shell Laboratory for Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.


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Following the ceremony, the protesters then pulled out loudhailers and began chanting “Cambridge, dump carbon, divest”, before marching out of the courtyard and into the streets outside.

Unlike previous demonstrations held by the group, the action was not disturbed by security staff.

Since it was set up in 2015, the Zero Carbon Society has protested vigorously over Hughes’ appointment, as part of its wider campaign to make the University withdraw its investments from the oil industry.

In May 2017, the University set up a working group to investigate the possibility of divestment, after a grace on the matter was passed by Regent’s House in January last year.

Commenting on the ongoing meeting between the University’s finance and business departments inside the Old Schools offices, Zero Carbon member Rory Golding told Varsity: “We thought, while they were in session, they would then be able to realise that we are here, we do mean business and we want them to go fossil-free.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the society, Rob Day, said: “The acceptance of donations from the Fossil Fuel Industry and the appointment of someone who owes their entire career and livelihood to an industry that has directly harmed both the planet and the lives of individuals, is a conflict of interest.”

The protest was one of a number of recent actions taken by Zero Carbon, which include staging a mock crime-scene investigation outside the University Investment Office