'Cambridge Come Clean': Protestors lit flares and held bannersNic Yazikov

Cambridge Zero Carbon Society blockaded the entrances to the BP Institute and geological research group CASP at Madingley Rise Site this morning as part of the group’s ongoing campaign against the links between Cambridge University and the fossil fuel industry.

Over 40 protesters physically blocked off doors and entrances, whilst banners with the words “Climate Crime Scene” and “No More Fossil Fuel” were erected across the site.

One protester at the scene said the intention was to “highlight the complicity of the university through its research and greenwashing of the climate crisis”. A member of Extinction Rebellion, who had turned up to support the protest, stated “people have to have a future on this planet, and at the moment their future is being taken away. As a citizen, it’s my duty to be in groups like this.”

“It’s a means to an end, and the end is to give people back their future.”

The blockade, which resulted in staff being turned away, was timed to highlight demands made by Zero Carbon in their new report exploring the historical links between the University and fossil fuel companies. The report sheds light on the network of donations, sponsorships, research grants, shared personnel and investments linking Cambridge University with the fossil fuel industry.

Its authors demand that the university “end extractive research projects and reject donations, research grants, sponsorship and advertising from fossil fuel companies.”

The decision to blockade CASP comes from what campaigners say is a major revelation in the report: the funding sources of a research group dedicated to exploring for new sources of oil and gas. Formerly known as Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme, CASP is an organisation protestors say is affiliated with the Earth Sciences Department but registered as a nonprofit charitable trust. Under this arrangement, it receives all of its funding from eleven fossil fuel companies including BP, Shell, Chevron, and ExxonMobil.


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Regarding CASP, a University spokesperson said, “CASP is an independent charity which is registered with the Charity Commission and none of its staff are employed by the University.”

A spokesperson from Cambridge Zero Carbon Society commented that, “The fossil fuel industry is exploiting our University as one of the last institutions from which it can draw social legitimacy, recruit talent, and license technology to facilitate the extraction of more oil and gas.”

“If the University is honest about tackling the climate crisis head-on, it must cut its lifeline to the fossil fuel industry and provide alternative career paths to its students, and alternative funding for its researchers.”

This is Zero Carbon’s second blockade of the BP Institute this year, following its shutdown of the building in February, and the latest in a series of direct action initiatives taken by the group in recent weeks. Earlier in October, members of the group targeted BP’s on-campus recruitment events at the Department of Chemistry and Clare College.

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