A discussion was held on the proposal for a new pro-vice-chancellor this weekHannah Mawardi for Varsity

Students have strongly criticised the newly-proposed pro-vice-chancellor (PVC) for sustainability role at a University forum, saying that the plans “come in place” of “meaningful” action on climate.

Sam Hutton, Chair of the SU’s Ethical Affairs Campaign, said that the new role “does not meaningfully hasten” the University’s climate action, and that the proposal “comes in place of meaningful reports on the policy”.

The University held a Discussion on the University Council’s proposals for a sustainability PVC on Tuesday of this week, which was attended by student climate activists, from groups such as Cambridge Climate Justice (CCJ) and the SU’s Ethical Affairs campaign.

The University holds Discussions on a bi-weekly basis, in which students and staff can submit pre-written remarks on proposals made by the institution. The Discussions feature no live debate, and students can only attend if they are pre-registered.

The proposals for a new PVC role require approval from the University, and the position’s focus on sustainability would have to be further confirmed by the decision-makers.

Students have demanded that the University publish a “roadmap” which would “entrench” the University’s commitment to climate action.

Speaking at the Discussion, Sam Hutton criticised the University’s “delays” on climate action, saying: “Every time students have been given a deadline on this issue, it has been broken.”

The proposals come following the release of the Topping Report, which found that the University’s acceptance of research funding from the fossil fuel industry poses “high reputational risk”.

Hutton also mentioned that the University’s plans to implement “consultation” on the report’s recommendations have not yet been communicated: “We hope this consultation will be concluded and communicated promptly and that recommendations will be implemented quickly.”

A representative of Cambridge Climate Justice (CCJ), a group of student climate activists, told the Discussion that, through its ties to the fossil fuel industry, the University’s “implicitly endorses climate destruction, knowingly contradicts its own academic standards [...] and goes against the plan set out in the report it itself commissioned.”


Mountain View

University Council recommends Pro-Vice-Chancellor role for sustainability

CCJ shared Hutton’s concerns regarding the University’s timeline for action, which the group said is “stagnating.” The student member went on to say that “the lack of any such timetable in the public sphere is worrying.”

“Continued delay in implementing the report’s recommendations would be nothing more than a distraction to avoid facing the reality of fossil fuel influence in our educational institution,” CCJ said.

A University spokesperson said: “The Pro-Vice‑Chancellor with responsibility for sustainability will play a key part in driving progress on the University’s sustainability ambitions on all fronts. Having this responsibility in the hands of one Pro-Vice-Chancellor will make sure it receives the attention it needs without the distraction of competing priorities.”