CUSU Takes on Uni Over Investments

CUSU has committed itself to pressuring the Uni and colleges on investments in some of the world’s worst polluters

CUSRIC CUSU ethical investments passing

A motion calling for the University and colleges to divest from non-renewable energy resources was passed by the CUSU Executive on Monday. Submitted by CUSU’s Ethical Affairs team, it passed unanimously.

The motion, which comes after reports from The Tab on questionable college investment practices, calls for pressure to be placed on the University and constituent colleges to “explicitly commit to pursuing low-carbon assets and withdraw their investments from companies whose main business is the extraction and/or production of fossil fuels.”

In passing this motion, CUSU joins a growing and increasingly active number of student bodies from a number of different Universities across the country campaigning on the issue.

The table where the big decisions are made

Campaigns at UCL, St Andrews and Edinburgh, as well as across the pond at Harvard and Princeton, have already demanded their Universities sell all shares in some of the world’s worst polluters.

In response to the vote, co-chair of CUSU’s Ethical Affairs team, Suyin Chalmin-Pui told The Tab, “This is the first and important step towards the CUSU campaign for divestment from fossil fuel companies and strongly articulates the student body’s position on the importance of a sustainable investment portfolio.”

In a press-release, the Ethical Affairs team stated: “Students have been increasingly pressuring the University of Cambridge to accept its responsibility for tackling climate change.

“Looking forward, we need to use this motion to push the university and its colleges to extend their environmental principles to their investment practices.”


A hardcore CUSRIC supporter

The motion’s passing evoked responses from a number of campaign groups around the UK., which aims to build a global grass roots movement to tackle climate change, wrote on their Facebook page: “Some great news from the UK. Congrats to students at Cambridge University, whose student union just voted *unanimously* to support divestment from fossil fuels. SHARE to encourage Cambridge to listen to its students! We hear they’re pretty smart.”


Let’s hope they carbon offset those lights

However some students were more pragmatic about the issue. ‘James’, an economist who asked his name be changed because of his high profile, said: “I think the general principle is that it is incredibly hard to beat tracker funds on average over the long term.

“Even if the Cambridge colleges do withdraw support from these tracker funds (which invariably include fossil fuel companies) this won’t change behavior of the tracker funds any time soon. In which case the colleges will be depriving themselves of returns that could be spent on other things”

Daniel Macmillen, Socially Responsible Investment Officer, argued for a bigger picture: “given the sobering assessments of climate science” he explained “and the imperative to prevent a hazardous temperature increase of over two degrees, we must do everything in our power to rapidly reduce fossil fuel extraction and consumption.”