PRESS RELEASE: ‘Thousands of Oxford students, academics and alumni make a stand to ensure a university pledge to divest from fossil fuels’


Oxford, UK – 100 Oxford academics [1], nearly 300 alumni [2] and over 2000 students [3] have signed an open letter urging the University of Oxford to move towards divesting its £3.8bn endowment from fossil fuels. 27 college common-rooms representing over 8200 students and Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) have also backed the OUSU Environment & Ethics Fossil Free campaign [4].

Oxford students celebrated this huge boost in support for divestment by touring Oxford colleges and landmark. This has come after the University extended a consultation [5] on fossil fuel divestment, due to end this week (November 14th).

The Fossil Free campaign submitted a report [6] to this consultation detailing its recommendations for the University, including a call to cut all direct investments in coal and tar sands oil and also to establish clear targets to move its indirect investments away from carbon-intensive assets and into low-carbon alternatives, including renewable energy.

Supporters of the student Fossil Free campaign include academics such as Lord Professor Robert May (ex-Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government), Emeritus Professor of International Relations Avi Shlaim and Professor Gordon Clark (Director of the Smith School and Fellow of the British Academy). High-profile alumni such as George Monbiot, Kumi Naidoo, Polly Toynbee and Ken Loach have also given their support.

Earlier this year, Glasgow University and Oxford City Council became the first UK council and university respectively to pledge divestment. This follows a huge number of institutions globally with a combined asset size of $50 billion committing to divest, including the British Medical Association, Stanford University and the World Council of Churches [7].


Ellen Gibson, Oxford student and Chair of OUSU Environment & Ethics

“I am delighted at the huge growth in support for the Fossil Free campaign. We have been campaigning on divestment for over a year now and it’s great to have such a wealth of support from such diverse sources behind us. I only hope that the University takes this into account in its consultation; its time Oxford listened to the voices telling it to take a leading role in the fight against climate change.”

Ruth Meredith, OUSU Vice-President (Charities & Community)

“The size and speed of growth in OUSU’s Fossil Fuel campaign over the last year indicates how passionate the University Community is about ensuring that Oxford University takes a responsible approach toward its investment. We’re calling on the University to take a proactive approach towards climate change, and divest from coal and tar sands oil as soon as possible.”

James Rainey, Oxford student and Oxford University Fossil Free activist

“By investing in an industry intending to exploit four times more fossil fuel reserves than can be burned “safely”, our University is unintentionally undermining our future. Divestment is needed to protect the integrity of Oxford, and build political pressure to prevent the carbon budget from being exceeded.”

Professor J. Doyne Farmer, Co-Director of Complexity Economics at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School

“Science makes it clear that use of fossil fuels needs to stop as soon as possible. It is technologically feasible to replace fossil fuels in a short time if we only resolve to do so. Oxford University should show leadership by divesting from fossil fuel companies and supporting alternatives, and encouraging others to follow.”


Interviews and photos available from: Ellen Gibson (OUSU Environment & Ethics Chair) on


  1. The academics open letter and list of signatories can be found here.
  2. The alumni open letter can be found here.
  3. The general petition with over 2000 signatures can be found here.
  4. The list of other supporters, as well as information about the student campaign can be found here.
  6. Report available here:

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