Last week students at Jesus staged a protest on the College’s lawnJesus College Climate Justice Campaign

A petition launched by the Jesus College Climate Justice Campaign (JCCJC) on 12 October has now acquired 327 signatures from students, academics and alumni. 

The petition has three main demands. Firstly, it demands that the College fully divest from all indirect investments in fossil fuels by 2021. Secondly, it demands the full divestment “from all investments in companies involved in biodiversity destruction, intensive animal farming and other ecocidal industries by the end of 2021.” Finally, it calls on the college to commit to achieving Net Zero Emissions by 2030 at the latest. 

The petition was launched on the same day that the campaign staged a demonstration which included a die-in and other displays such as protestors wearing fake blood and holding up signs. 

The petition claims that, as “a wealthy Cambridge college at the centre of world-leading sustainability research”, Jesus’ deadline for Net Zero Emissions should be more ambitious than the UN’s deadline of 2050

It also claims that “given that the Jesus College investment portfolio is significantly smaller than the central University’s, we believe it is reasonable to expect that the College should divest by the end of 2021” rather than 2030, which is the University’s deadline for full divestment. In the context of Christ’s College recently announcing that it will also fully divest by 2030, the JCCJC’s petition urges Jesus College to “be bolder.” 

The petition argues that, since studies show that “sustainable, ethical investments have equal or higher returns to those in ecologically destructive industries”, divestment makes sense from both an ethical and financial standpoint.

The JCCJC will present the petition to members of the College Council who, they hope, will advocate for the demands in their positions on the council. 

A spokesperson from JCCJC told Varsity that they believe the support the petition has received from its signatories and the JCR and MCR committees “demonstrates the deep strength of feeling which exists throughout our College community.” According to them, the College has the financial ability to meet the demands and “we have an even more profound duty to rapidly decarbonise” as a result of Jesus’ wealth. 

According to JCCJC, the College has the financial ability to meet the demands and "we have an even more profound duty to rapidly decarbonise" as a result of Jesus' wealth.

In response to the petition, a spokesperson for the College told Varsity: “we recognise the urgency of climate change and we understand the concerns raised by the petition. In recent years we have welcomed opportunities to engage with all members of the College and wider Cambridge community on how best to deal with the climate challenge.”

The spokesperson  admitted that COVID-19 had forced the College “to temporarily pause some projects to focus on the immediate needs of our students, Fellows and staff.”

However, they ensured that “we will be continuing with our series of consultations, started late last year and halted by COVID, on our new Responsible Investment Policy.”

They continued: “We have already involved students, Fellows and staff in the process, and we are committed to hosting two more consultation events in mid November. We very much welcomed the University’s report on divestment, authored by Jesus College Post-Doctoral Associate Dr Ellen Quigley, and look forward to working with her and others on delivering a meaningful and impactful policy for Jesus College.”

JCCJC acknowledged that “the pandemic is rightly taking up a huge amount of time and College capacity at the moment, and sincerely thank College management for their work in this area, but feel obligated to remind the College of the need to aggressively respond to the arguably even more calamitous crisis that is climate breakdown.” 


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They also pointed out that the campaign’s support from the fellowship includes “globally renowned physicists, Earth scientists and historians... who have studied the evidence and implications of the climate crisis in extreme depth, [and] are sending a very clear message to College management that this is an existential threat that must be met with bold, ambitious policy responses which have been lacking up until now.” 

JCCJC reiterated that the campaign is “adamantly optimistic” that the College community can come together to “achieve these vital policy objectives.” 

The pressure on Jesus follows Christ's College's recent announcement that they will fully divest by 2030.