Fossil Free Research grace not authorised by Cambridge University Council

Professor Jason Scott-Warren said the decision was “deeply predictable”

Cambridge University has today (17/10) taken the decision not to authorise a grace on whether to accept research funding with links to fossil fuels.

The call was made during a meeting of the Council, the university’s top policy making body, chaired by Acting Vice-Chancellor Anthony Freeling and composed of 16 elected academic members, four external members, and three student members.

Professor Jason Scott-Warren, one of the grace’s authors and a member of the University Council, has expressed his frustration, saying that the university’s response is “deeply predictable and deeply depressing.”

Had the grace been given the green light, the 5,500 members of Regents’ House (consisting mostly of fellows) would have had the chance later this term to cast their ballots on cutting all economic ties to the fossil fuel industry regarding research funding. This would have made Cambridge the world’s first university to vote on doing so.

A University spokesperson said “The Council shares the desire to urgently address climate change and fully supports the University’s efforts to turn world-leading research into tangible solutions.”

“It has chosen to commission a study to fully understand the impact that this grace could have on the University’s ability to accelerate its contribution to the energy transition, as well as its duties associated with academic freedom. The Council is committed to consulting with the Regent House and other members of the collegiate University on this issue.”

As Cambridge committed in 2020 to pulling all investments out of fossil fuels by 2030, research funding is the main lasting connection between the university and the controversial industry.

The decision would have marked a further step away from Cambridge’s status as one of the highest recipients of funds from oil firms among all UK universities, having taken almost £15 million since 2017 as of December 2021.

This is a live story and will be updated with more information as it becomes available 

Feature image credits: Keira Quirk