The open letter was coordinated by the Pembroke Climate Justice CampaignLouis Ashworth

Pembroke College will make “all reasonable efforts” to fully divest from fossil fuels by 2023, according to a statement released yesterday (17/02).

The announcement was made in response to an open letter coordinated by the Pembroke Climate Justice Campaign (PCJC), and signed by 215 current students and 46 alumni.

PCJC described the commitment as a “huge victory” and a demonstration of “the enormous power of student campaigning”.

Pembroke College does not currently hold direct investments in companies linked to fossil fuels as it divested from Shell and BP in 2019 then updated its Investment Statement on 31st January to reflect that it has sold its shares in two mining companies.

The College noted that their “fossil fuel investments have never been large and this divestment is not materially significant”.

PCJC responded to this, stating the College “still has at least £20 million invested in funds that are exposed to fossil fuels”.

They added “clearly, Pembroke has less invested in fossil fuels than some other Cambridge colleges. However, the power of divestment lies not in the removal of financial support from fossil fuel companies, but in the weakening of their social license to operate.”

The open letter released last month called on Pembroke to “publicly announce a commitment to full divestment from fossil fuels by the end of the 2020/2021 academic year”, “update the existing investment policy (2017) to be in compliance with full divestment from fossil fuels and the UN Principles for Responsible Investment”, and “remove all direct investments from the 200 largest fossil fuel producers in terms of emissions”.

The final demand was to “remove all indirect investments in the Carbon Underground 200 list of companies” by not investing in funds which have holdings in these companies.

The organisers of the letter told Varsity they were “in solidarity with frontline communities in the Global South, who are already and will continue being disproportionately affected by the impacts of the climate crisis”.


Mountain View

Changes to University investment management raise concerns over divestment

Pembroke’s divestment commitment comes after the central University’s decision in October to fully divest it’s £3.5bn portfolio from fossil fuels by 2030 following a five-year student-led campaign.

To date, only three out of 31 constituent colleges, Christ’s, Queen's and Clare Hall, have committed to terminating both direct and indirect investment from the fossil fuel industry. A further 12 — Newnham, Robinson, St John’s, Fitzwilliam, Selwyn, Emmanuel, Downing, Peterhouse, Lucy Cavendish, Jesus, and Trinity Hall — have publicly committed to partial divestment.

Pembroke Climate Justice Campaign stated “for decades, the fossil fuel industry has knowingly fueled climate breakdown, lobbied against environmental regulations, bankrolled misleading climate science, and all while continuing the search for new sources of oil and gas. This announcement sends a clear signal to the fossil fuel industry that their destructive, exploitative practices have no place in our College, in our University, or in society.”

Cambridge Zero Carbon, who have coordinated the divestment campaign, said in a press release: “As we have seen first at Christ’s and Trinity Hall, and now at Pembroke, this decision did set an important precedent - we are confident more and more colleges will realise that it is utterly unacceptable to maintain any links to the fossil fuel industry”.

They added “until Cambridge University has cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry, it remains complicit in climate injustice.”