Protestors stood next to the famous Jesus Horse wearing horse masks covered in fake bloodGaby Vides

Students and fellows of Jesus College held a socially-distanced demonstration yesterday (12/10) calling on senior management to speed up the College’s plans for full divestment and for the College to reach net zero emissions by 2030.

The demonstration was organised by the Jesus College Climate Justice Campaign (JCCJC) who are calling on the College to fully divest from fossil fuel companies, the arms industry and any “other ecocidal industries” by the end of 2021. The JCCJC are also urging the College to publicly commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

The demonstration involved a die-in in which students’ lay on the College’s First Court with signs and speeches as well as theatrics involving 5 students standing next to the famous Jesus Horse sculpture wearing horse masks covered in fake blood.

According to a press release from JCCJC, the blood-stained horse masks were intended to represent the “damage that the College’s failure to divest and set net zero targets is doing to the natural world and the communities which depend on it”. The protestors wearing horse masks held placards with messages like “Stop horsing around” and “Say neigh to fossil fuels.”

Other protestors held signs with slogans like “What would Jesus do?”, “Fellows for Climate Justice” and “Net-Zero by 2030”.

Meanwhile a number of protestors involved in the die-in also had fake blood on their hands which the group described as representing the “150,000 lives lost every year as a direct result of the climate crisis.”

The action comes after years of campaigning by the student activists, with one of the heads of the campaign stressing in a speech that the JCCJC have tried “official channels of dialogue..for more than 5 years.” The Jesus College Students Union on two separate motions has voted in support of full divestment in recent years, as well voting in favour of a motion for the College to commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

Jesus is one of nine colleges - Newnham, Robinson, St John’s, Fitzwilliam Peterhouse, Emmanuel, Jesus, Downing and Selwyn - which is partially divested while only two colleges - Queens and Clare Hall - are fully divested with Christs’ recently announcing that they will fully divest from fossil fuels by 2030.

Protestors staged a die-in while a number of fellows stood on the outskirts holding signs and wearing gownsGaby Vides

The demonstration also follows the announcement in Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope’s annual address on October 1st that the University will fully divest from fossil fuels by 2030.

While JCCJC welcomed the University’s plans to divest they are also urging “Jesus College to commit to divesting too - and on a much shorter time-scale to reflect the true urgency of the crisis.” The activist group continued to highlight that “a commitment to divest by 2030 is unacceptable when this policy can and should be enacted much earlier, and when people are suffering so acutely already.”

James, a current undergraduate student at Jesus College, felt the protest was needed to show that, while JCCJC “appreciates the work College is doing”, Jesus “is still failing to treat the climate crisis as the existential emergency that it is.”

He continued: “There must be a radical tone-shift in the way institutions address sustainability concerns. Distant targets and vague commitments will not be sufficient to meet the deadlines which UN scientists tell us are essential for averting runaway climate breakdown”.

A Jesus College spokesperson in a statement told Varsity that the College recognises “the urgency of climate change and we hear the concerns raised by yesterday’s protest.”


Mountain View

Christ’s commits to full divestment from fossil fuels by 2030

In regard to the drive for net-zero emissions, the spokesperson commented that Jesus “have been improving the sustainability of the College’s operations and estate for almost a the last year we have launched a huge number of initiatives, from free plant milk in our cafe to breaking ground on a fully sustainable ground source heat pump for our major kitchen project.”

Speaking on divestment, the spokesperson expressed the College’s frustration that “Covid-19 forced us [Jesus] to pause a consultation, led by the Bursar, on a new Responsible Investment Policy”, which “had already involved students, Fellows and staff”.

However, during the demonstration, one of the organisers commented in their speech that while the JCCJC recognises the stresses Covid-19 places on the College, this still must not detract from the climate crisis.

The organisers of the demonstration ensured that all participants sanitised upon their arrival and were wearing masks as well as maintaining social distancing guidelines.