Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership launch protested by multiple groups

Links to oil, arms and aviation companies were protested


The University of Cambridge’s Institute of Sustainability Leadership (CISL) inaugurated its new headquarters on Thursday (31/03). It has drawn criticism from multiple groups for inviting representatives from oil, arms and aviation companies.

Last night (01/04), activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) Youth Cambridge protested by stencilling “NO OIL”, “NO WAR” and “NO EMPIRES” on the building. They also threw red and black paint on the building.

Image Credits: XR Youth Cambridge

 Attendees of the CISL opening ceremony included the Prince of Wales, the State Secretary of Business Kwasi Kwarteng MP, and representatives from oil company BP, arms companies Boeing and Rolls-Royce, and Heathrow Airport.

An XR Youth Cambridge activist said: “An oil company, two arms companies, an airport and a relic of imperialism walk into a sustainability meeting… apparently, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.”

It claimed: “CISL gives unsustainable institutions and industries a seat at the table in discussions about solutions for a crisis. We need the voices of those most impacted to be heard – people in the global south and indigenous peoples protecting their lands from piplines and extraction!”

The activists point to companies’ own climate goals as examples of what they claim is “empty promises”. They claim that Heathrow airport’s 2030 net-zero target doesn’t take into account the flights taking off and landing at its runway, despite aviation being a leading cause of carbon emissions.

They claim BP’s 2050 target “doesn’t include the carbon impact of the oil and gas it extracts.”

Demilitarise Cambridge also released a statement. They referenced Boeing, claiming their “F-15 combat aircraft have been used during Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen,” and who they say “produce Small Diameter Bombs and other munitions supporting Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”

They also claimed Rolls Royce is unsustainable, due to what the activists say is their involvement in producing engines for “a quarter of the military aircraft globally.”

Demilitarise Cambridge called on CISL to “publicly commit to cutting its ties with arms and fossil fuel companies,” asking them to “direct its resources to communities on the frontline of the climate crisis.”

Their statement was amplified by the Cambridge Student Union’s Ethical Affairs Campaign.

The institute has also previously been protested. In January, activists from XR Cambridge and XR Youth Cambridge changed a sign on the CISL building. “THIS IS NOT AN ORDINARY PROJECT, BUT IT NEEDS TO BE” was changed to say “THIS IS NOT AN ANTICAPITALIST PROJECT, BUT IT NEEDS TO BE”.

Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership, Heathrow Airport, Rolls Royce, Boeing, BP and the Royal Family were contacted for comment.

Feature Image Credits: XR Youth Cambridge