UoM agrees to review fossil fuel investment after students threaten hunger strike

The university currently invests £12 million in fossil fuels

The University of Manchester has agreed to review its investment in fossil fuels after a week-long student protest.

People and Planet, a group made up of Manchester students, had been occupying the John Owens building for seven days in protest of the university's £12 million investment in fossil fuels.

The group had threatened to go on hunger strike after the university agreed to meet with them only after they vacated the building.

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Last week, The Manchester Tab revealed protestors had been denied food by university security. One protestor said staff "were taking the names of anyone who brought food."

Early in the semester, People and Planet Manchester sent an open letter to the university "asking for a dialogue to be started about divestment," warning potential action if they received no reply.

18 students stormed the building on Tuesday morning last week and have camped out in the finance boardroom for seven days after. A statement from the group said: "We’re bringing this to their doorstep so that they can’t ignore us anymore.

"We’ve tried hard to engage with the University Officers and the Board of Governors but they refuse to open a dialogue with us. If we’re sitting inside their offices they don’t have that option."

In a joint statement, Manchester Students' Union and the University of Manchester said: "The university has committed to bring forward by a year the review of its SRIP (socially responsible investment policy) because of the shared recognition of the urgency of the issue.

"This review will be completed before 31 July 2020 for implementation from 1 August 2020.

"There will be meaningful engagement with the wider student, staff and alumni bodies as part of this review."

Several other universities have already pledged to fully divest from fossil fuels – including York, Durham, Cardiff, and Bristol.

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