BREAKING: University ties to fossil fuel companies revealed
Close financial links between the University and oil companies impacted divestment
An investigation by the Guardian has revealed that shortly before the University rejected a democratically approved call from staff and students to divest, BHP Biliton and BP donated £20 million and £2 million to the University.
The primary contact in regards to these donations was Simon Redfern, who was also on the Working Council that decided against Divestment. The Vice Chair of the Working Group John Shakeshaft wasalso aware of the previously undisclosed donations, but no conflict of interest was officially registered and both Redfern and Shakeshaft went on to oppose divestment.
Alice Guillame, another member of the 10-person group, said: “The fact that these donations were even on the table was not disclosed to the working group at any stage. I was completely unaware that they were taking place… I am shocked by the news and now seriously doubt the integrity of the process as a whole.”
Campaigners have also disclosed the scale of the "revolving door" between Cambridge University management and fossil fuel companies. Six of the fourteen members of the Finance Committee either work for or have worked for fossil fuel companies, including the Director of Finance David Hughes, who worked at BG Group (now Shell) for 12 years before coming to Cambridge – casting further doubt on the integrity of the University's decision-making processes.
University Council member Jason Scott-Warren has described these revelations as "sickening", and that they "underline the extent of University's complicity with the fossil fuel producers who are wrecking our planet". He concluded by saying "the decision the University Council took against divestment needs urgently to be revisited and rescinded".
On top of the private influence of these major donations, the rejection of divestment was influenced by the threat of Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, in April 2018. He said: "We donate and do lots of research at Cambridge, so I hope they come to their senses on this" at a public event. These revelations paint a murky image of the scenes behind the divestment decision.
A spokesperson from Zero Carbon has said: "University management subverted a democratic decision from their own staff, instead engaging in a process drenched in oil money. They must now revoke the Working Group Report and begin an immediate, transparent and democratic process to investigate how the University can fully divest from fossil fuels".
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