Zero Carbon has staged a variety of eccentric protestsMatthias Gjesdal Hammer/Harry Aitken/Simon Lock/Zero Carbon

With Cambridge expected to make a divestment decision at a University Council meeting tomorrow, Zero Carbon’s climate activists have ramped up the scale of their protests. Three members of the society are on hunger-strike, while their occupation of Greenwich House, the University’s central administrative building, is in its second day. Since its launch in 2015, the campaign group has been pretty creative in its protests. Here are some of the most memorable moments:

Zero Carbon’s beginnings involved hanging painted bedsheets over bridges

A bridge too far: one student was deaned for his involvement in the banner dropSimon Lock

In on of its earliest protests, taking place in November 2015, Zero Carbon members held banners over the sides of King’s and Clare bridges. The protest was launched at the same time as its original petition calling on the University and the Vice-Chancellor to divest, which garnered over 1,000 signatures in three days.

Angus Satow, prominent Zero Carbon member and erstwhile campaigns officer, was deaned as a result of the incident. Later that month, the society won a grant of £600 from CUSU, and CUSU Council voted to “publicise and support” a fundraiser to cover the fines Satow may have had to pay.

The march of the carbon bubbles

Beyond the bubble: Students marched along Magdalene Street dressed as carbon bubblesCambridge Zero Carbon Society

Zero Carbon members marched through Cambridge in January 2016, dressed as carbon bubbles. The marchers wore signs around their necks, drawing attention to the University’s ‘core values’, which include “concern for sustainability and the relationship with the environment.”

Painting the town red

Breaking ties: red ribbons came with climate change warnings attachedCAITLIN SMITH

Students from Zero Carbon and a number of other activist groups tied red ribbons around Cambridge landmarks, in a project called ‘Red lines’ at the end of the student-led Green Week. They began by tying red a red ribbon along the railing outside of Senate House, in an effort to alert the University to the urgency of climate change.

Later that year, members of the society wrote a 74-page report, with a foreword from former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, labelling climate change a ‘life-or-death question’, which they claimed “places a considerable burden of responsibility on Cambridge to make the right choice.”

When BP got more than they bargained for at the careers fair

A slick operation: ‘Oil-stained’ protestors disrupt a careers fairPatrick Wernham

The stalls set up by BP and Shell at a University Careers Service event attracted considerably more attention from climate activists than from Cambridge’s budding chemical engineers. Zero Carbon protesters, dressed in black and with black painted onto their hands, in a reference to recent oil spills, entered the building chanting, before lying down.

This happened on the same day as the University Council’s divestment working group holding its second open ‘town hall’ meeting in Lady Mitchell Hall. Topics of discussion included whether the University should divest, or engage with hydrocarbon companies.

A ‘climate kickabout’ on Senate House lawn

Senate House stadium: Protestors stage a football match at the heart of the UniversityCambridge Zero Carbon Society/Facebook

A football match was held on Senate House lawn in April 2017, as Zero Carbon called for the University to uphold the Regent House motion to commit to fossil fuel divestment. The activists staged a ‘Climate Kickabout’, where they wore masks of world leaders, including President Donald Trump, to highlight that “world leaders are willing to play games with the planet, and Cambridge shouldn’t be complicit in this.”

Zero Carbon was criticising the University Council’s refusal to uphold an ‘advisory’ Regent House grace with 140 signatures, which stated 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”.

Smoke grenades and megaphones post-Paradise Papers

Clearing the air: students release smoke grenades on King’s ParadeLEFTERIS PAPAROUNAS

As part of a coordinated ‘National Day of Action’ across British universities in November 2017, Zero Carbon protesters stood on the wall in front of King’s College Chapel, setting off black smoke grenades. The action came in the same month as analysis of the Paradise Papers leak, which revealed that Cambridge had tens of millions invested in fossil fuel companies via offshore funds.

A mock crime scene and an oil leak

Anthropocene of the crime: students stage a crime sceneHarry Aitken

In early February, Zero Carbon began a Lent term of increasing mobilisation with a ‘crime scene’ staged outside of the University Investment Office. Students dressed in lab coats and orange gloves posed amid police tape – as the pretend-detectives carried out a forensic analysis.

The activists recorded a fake news report, saying that “oil had been leaking out of the investment office drain.” The action was intended to criticise the University’s “lack of transparency” surrounding its investments in fossil fuels.

On Valentine’s day – a match made in heaven?

Spill death do us part: protest nuptials outside Old SchoolsMatthias Gjesdal Hammer

In one of its most creative stunts, this Valentine’s Day climate activists staged a mock wedding between a groom wearing a Shell logo, and a bride donning a Cambridge crest. The wedding took place in the courtyard of the Old Schools building, while representatives from the University’s business and finance departments held a meeting indoors. In his speech, the ‘vicar’ referenced the fact that the University had recently appointed David Hughes, former Shell employee, as its new Director of Finance.

Hundreds of students mobilised to call on Corporation Cambridge to divest

Critical mass: students turned out in large numbers to call for divestment last termMatthias Gjesdal Hammer

Increasing momentum gathered behind the Zero Carbon campaign as it held its most-attended rally to date. 359 students and staff marched through Cambridge in March, carrying banners and setting off orange smoke grenades – the colour in the society’s logo.

Students called on ‘Corporation Cambridge’ to divest, two weeks after Alice Guillaume, student representative, resigned from the University’s divestment working group, after revealing that a draft report only called for ‘partial divestment.’

Occupying financial offices

Out of office: students barred most staff from entering the occupied areaLouis Ashworth

Before Zero Carbon occupied Greenwich House this weekend, it staged a temporary occupation of the finance office at the end of the Easter vacation. Staff were barred from entering, as the doors were blockaded and students formed a barricade.

The activists displayed an orange banner that read ‘Divest now, no to fossil fuels’, while playing loud music through the hallways.

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