'The University taking fossil fuel money makes people think it's on the side of the polluters,' say campaignersFelix Armstrong with permission for Varsity

The SU has passed a motion to lobby the University to end research funding, sponsorship and collaborations with fossil fuel companies.

The motion was passed in support of Cambridge Climate Justice’s (CCJ) Fossil Free Research campaign, with 74% of the Student Council voting in favour and 4% abstaining.

The motion also forces the SU to call on the University’s fundraising arm to seek alternate sources of finance to replace the income lost by moving away from oil and gas company contributions.

Cambridge is one of the highest recipients of funding from oil firms among all UK universities, having received over £14 million from fossil fuel companies since 2017.

Last year, the University Council chose to delay a vote on stopping accepting research funding with links to fossil fuels. Instead, the Council chose to commission a study to “analyse the likely impact” of the changes on “the University’s research and teaching activities, including its ability to deliver solutions which contribute to the energy transition”. The study is due to be published some time this term, despite having had an initial due date of “as early as possible” in Lent of this year.

Fossil Free Research is an international campaign “working to end the toxic influence of the fossil fuel industry on higher ed and climate change research”. CCJ – a student-led campaign for the university to end its support for environmentally destructive industries – is one of FFR’s coalition members.


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Previous actions taken by CCJ include occupying the BP Institute on the West Cambridge Site, disrupting a closed-door meeting promoting fossil fuel funding for climate research, and organising rallies.

One of CCJ’s campaigners, Adam Waters, said: “In a world where the likes of BP make record profits, scaling back climate action puts university credibility at risk. We’re meant to be a world-leading academic institution but the University taking fossil fuel money makes people think it’s on the side of the polluters.”

Waters said “Supporting this motion sends a message of solidarity to... all victims of fossil fuel companies everywhere.”

The chair of the SU’s ethical affairs campaign, Sam Hutton, commented: “It is exciting to see such strong student support today; we aren’t going to accept the bias, greenwashing and limits on academic freedom that this funding imposes on the University. Students don’t want to be complicit in collaboration with companies that are actively destroying communities in the Global South; we can’t continue to allow the compromised research output of our University to fabricate credibility for this lethal industry.”

The University has been contacted for comment.