The college has ‘one of the largest endowments and amounts still invested in fossil fuels’Extinction Rebellion Cambridge

On Wednesday night (29/09), Extinction Rebellion Cambridge (XRC) glued gnomes to the gates of Clare College, to protest against the college’s continued investment in fossil fuels.

The gnomes were left outside the front gate of Clare College’s Old Court, alongside signs with the slogan “Gnome more fossil fuels”.

In a tweet, XRC described Clare College as “the oiliest Cambridge college” and stated that it “must now face the wrath of the gnomes”.

The protests come as part of XRC’s ongoing campaign to urge the University and its constituent colleges to divest from fossil fuels.

In a statement, XRC highlighted the fact that out of all the Cambridge colleges that have not committed to divestment, Clare has invested the most in fossil fuel companies.

“Clare has the largest endowment of all the Cambridge colleges that are not yet committed to partial or full fossil fuel divestment,” a XRC member claimed.

According to XRC’s ethical ranking of the Colleges’ on divestment, Clare College is ranked one of the lowest.

This is as the college has “one of the largest endowments and amounts still invested in fossil fuels”, but has not yet announced plans to divest.

The group further stated that the college “present[s] a friendly and progressive face to the world”, but “continue to invest in an industry causing catastrophic global overheating”.

XRC also called upon the new Master of the college, Loretta Minghella OBE, to encourage the college to divest.

In a press release to Varsity, XRC members involved in the protest said: “Due to her background in finance, including her previous job managing the Church of England’s £8 billion investment portfolio, she may well be aware that fossil fuel investments not only give legitimacy to a destructive and exploitative industry, but are also increasingly proving to be financially harmful.”

“We are therefore calling on her, and all of Clare College, to commit to full divestment from the fossil fuel industry.”

In June, Clare College won a Gold award in the Green Impact competition, organised by the University to spur colleges and departments to be more environmentally friendly.

This year is the seventh consecutive year that Clare College has won gold or platinum.

The award recognises green initiatives within the college, including the installation of smart meters and Clare’s Green Formal Halls, which were organised by ‘Clare Goes Green’ to raise money for environmental causes.

A spokesperson for the college told Varsity that Clare believes climate change to be an “urgent global challenge,” that we all must play a part in addressing. They expressed pride in receiving the Gold award, but stress that “[the college is] not complacent about our approach to environmental stewardship.”


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They continued: “[Clare has] been giving careful attention to what this means for the investment of our endowment and in 2020 announced our collaboration with Amundi Asset Management to establish a low carbon ESG tracker fund which excludes fossil fuel companies,” noting that the college has now transferred most of its public equity investments to zero fossil fuel funds and “expects to transfer the balance before the end of the year.”

This transfer was confirmed in a statement made by the Union of Clare Students (UCS) last year, the college has committed to shift 80% of its holdings away from companies with oil, gas and coal reserves.

However, the remaining 20% of investments may still include fossil fuel companies.

Last year, the Clare Divestment Campaign wrote an open letter to the college, calling on them to “publicly commit to not holding the remaining 20% of the College’s investments either directly or indirectly in the fossil fuel industry”.

The UCS and the MCR also pushed for full divestment.

Despite this, the college has not announced any plans to withdraw its investments in fossil fuel companies.

XRC stated that they will continue their campaign until Cambridge University and all its constituent colleges “have committed to a timeline for divestment which reflects the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis” and “reinvest ethically in industries with zero or very low greenhouse gas emissions and a positive social impact.”