The University of Bedfordshire have signed NUS and People & Planet’s Fossil Fuel Declaration. This comes in the wake of a series of high-profile divestment commitments in the past year – including Bath, Cardiff, Durham & Nottingham, as well as Ireland becoming the first nation in the world to make a fossil fuel divestment commitment.
This challenging of the social license of the fossil fuel industry reaffirms the public commitment Bedfordshire made back in January 2015, when they became the second university in the UK to go fossil free - following the University of Glasgow in October, 2014.
NUS and People & Planet’s Fossil Fuel Declaration is for institutions who are already fossil free, but want to make a public commitment to climate justice. By becoming a signatory, universities affirm their current fossil free status, as well as committing to remaining so in the future. This makes them a part of the global movement for fossil fuel divestment.
The declaration reflects a commitment to safeguard “a liveable climate for all” through a “just transition to a low-carbon economy” and the acceptance of responsibility to act, as “universities exist for the public good”. Signatories acknowledge that they “have students studying [...] from across the world, many of whom come from communities in the Global South who are already feeling the effects of and are on the frontlines of climate change.” They also make a commitment to intergenerational solidarity: “We want to protect the future of all of our students – current and future.”
Jasmine Yeates, who was Vice-President Equality at Bedfordshire Students’ Union at the time of signing said of the decision:
“After meeting with other union officers, attending conferences and learning about the importance of divestment from fossil fuels, I was really keen to meet with the Vice Chancellor so that the University of Bedfordshire could get on board with this. After holding discussions, I am pleased to say that the University of Bedfordshire has shown a commitment to Fossil Fuel divestment by signing NUS’ and People & Planet’s Fossil Fuel Declaration. I believe this is a fantastic step forward in saving the planet!”
Chris Saltmarsh, Fossil Free Campaigns Co-ordinator at People & Planet says:
“Bedfordshire is a valuable addition to the growing list of signatories of the declaration. For every UK university that pledges to never invest in fossil fuels, we strip away the social licenses of companies like Shell, BP and Exxon to profit from businesses which are pushing our society towards climate crisis. The vast majority of fossil fuels must stay in the ground to achieve climate justice and we call on remaining universities to join the Fossil Free movement before they fall behind the curve on climate action.”
Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS Vice-President (Society & Citizenship) says:
“Yet another signatory to the Fossil Fuel Declaration speaks to the powerful impact that the collective action of students across UK campuses has on the sector, and the world. In May Native leaders met at Rosebud Sioux Nation near the Keystone XL Pipeline Route to call to attention the relationship between fossil fuel infrastructure construction and violence perpetrated against Native women and girls. This shows how fossil fuel divestment isn’t just about environmental justice, but social justice. As we inch ever closer to reaching half of all UK universities committed to cut ties with this destructive industry, it’s time for those universities who have yet to divest to consider how they will be perceived in the course of history”.