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To: Newcastle University - Vice-chancellor Chris Day
Newcastle University Go Fossil Free
We want Newcastle University to drop all its investments in fossil fuels, or "fully divest", by 2021.
Divestment is the opposite of investment – it is the removal of investment capital from stocks, bonds or funds. The global movement for fossil fuel divestment asks socially influential institutions to move their money out of fossil fuel companies for environmental, moral and financial reasons, and instead invest in ethical and sustainable alternatives, such as renewable energy.
In May 2016, following a student-led campaign, Newcastle University committed to a partial divestment from fossil fuels, stating it would remove its investments in coal, tar sands and 'non-progressive' oil and gas companies. Despite this, the most recent data show that the university still has more than £8 million invested in fossil fuel companies such as Shell, BP and BHP Billiton (1). Whether subjectively labelled as "progressive" or otherwise, companies such as these are nonetheless actively exploring for and extracting new fossil fuels, at a point in history where we cannot afford to burn even the supplies we already have. Moreover, they are in many cases committing a range of human rights abuses in the process.
We are therefore urging Newcastle University to take the important next step of committing to full divestment from fossil fuels.
Why is this important?
Climate break down is happening now. From deadly forest fires in California to South Pacific islands sinking as a result of sea-level rise, we are already feeling the effects of rising global temperatures. This poses a tremendous threat to humanity and all other life on this planet.
Climate change is a social justice issue. It disproportionately affects people who bear little responsibility for its causes, including communities in the Global South who are on the frontline of fossil fuel extraction, and minority-ethnic and working class communities in the Global North.
The latest United Nations IPCC report tells us we must cut global carbon emissions by at least 45% by 2030 if we are to stand any chance of limiting average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. If we don't do so, we will face significantly more extreme impacts in the form of droughts, floods, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people, within our lifetimes. We must act collectively to do everything in our power to cut carbon emissions as fast as possible.