Pembroke commits to full divestment from fossil fuels by 2023

This follows an open letter from the student-led Pembroke Climate Justice Campaign

Pembroke College has announced yesterday (17/02) it will fully divest from fossil fuels by 2023. 

Pembroke has committed to remove all direct and indirect investments in the fossil fuel industry from its £104 million endowment by 2023.   

This comes after student pressure at Pembroke, and an open letter on the issue, released by the Pembroke Climate Justice Campaign (PCJC) on 22nd January 2021, which was signed by 215 undergraduate and postgraduate students, and 46 alumni. 

The decision to fully divest was made on 16th February at a College Meeting, at which College Trustees and the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Pembroke JCR and MCR voted in favour of full divestment. 

The JCR and MCR Presidents, Lily Young and Coco Huggins said in a press release: “We welcome this decision and are grateful for all the hard work by student campaigners. We will continue to push for wider-reaching changes to promote sustainability at Pembroke.”

The divestment announcement follows the College’s decision to sell their direct investments in Shell and BP in 2019. On 31st January 2021, Pembroke also updated its Investment Statement to include that it had sold its direct investments in mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP, and therefore no longer had any direct investments in fossil fuel companies. 

However, the College still has at least £20 million invested in funds that are exposed to fossil fuel companies. 

Pembroke released a public statement on 17th February, with the Master and Bursar saying they were “pleased to receive an open letter from a number of members on Divestment.” 

The College responded directly to the demands of the open letter in their public statement: “As a College we regard these requests as broadly reasonable and achievable, and can commit to make all reasonable efforts to deliver them.”

They have also said they are keen to improve their positive contribution to Climate Change in other areas saying “the College has made much more significant progress in other areas and is committed to continue to work on the major challenges posed by global warming.”

PCJC, the student-led campaign behind the open letter, commented on the College’s response: “Pembroke’s divestment announcement is a huge victory for our campaign and demonstrates the enormous power of student campaigning.” 

“This announcement sends a clear signal to the fossil fuel industry that their destructive, exploitative practices have no place in our College, our University, or our society.” 

PCJC hopes to continue working with Pembroke on these issues: “We will continue campaigning for the College to dramatically reduce its carbon emissions and cut all ties with ecocidal industries.”

The Cambridge Zero Carbon Society, the University-wide campaign group that has been campaigning on divestment for the past five years, also commented on Pembroke’s decision to fully divest: “This is yet another tremendous victory for the divestment movement at Cambridge University.” 

They feel that the University of Cambridge’s commitment to full divestment by 2030 on 1st October 2020 has set an “important precedent” for continued action: “[W]e are confident more and more colleges will now realise that it is utterly unacceptable to maintain any links with the fossil fuel industry.”

As well as following the University’s commitment to divest, Pembroke’s commitment to full divestment comes after that of Christ’s College in October 2020, and Trinity Hall in November 2020. 

Featured image credit: Margaux Emmanuel