STATEMENT: Oxford University defers decision on divestment

Oxford University has just released a statement that it will be deferring any action on divestment until a future meeting:

“Last October’s Oxford University Student Union resolution has raised an important and multi-faceted matter which requires thorough consideration. The University Council had a good discussion of the issues and agreed to consider the matter further at a future meeting.”

Today Oxford University Council met to discuss proposals for fossil fuel divestment. We are disappointed that they have deferred this important decision until a future meeting. This deferral represents serious complacency towards the urgent need for action on climate change. The Oxford University Divestment Campaign has been active for over 18 months, during which time it has been continuously hampered by the slow burn of the University’s bureaucratic processes.

The absence of a response today is disappointing, given how long the decision-making process has taken already. We appreciate the University’s active engagement with the student body on this issue, and strongly urge the University to make the right decision without delay.

We call on supporters of the campaign to continue to lobby the University, and show their support for responsible investment. The University must also know that our campaign will only grow from here; we will continue to make our demands, now with renewed urgency and determination.

The Oxford University Divestment Campaign has widespread support, including 29 college common rooms, official endorsement from Oxford University Student Union, over 100 academics and more than 550 alumni, who have pledged not to donate to the University unless they divest. Furthermore, alumni from 15 different colleges, including green energy entrepreneur Jeremy Leggett and journalist George Monbiot, have promised to hand back their Oxford University degrees if the University does not commit to divestment from fossil fuels.

Dr Jeremy Leggett, an Oxford alumnus and solar energy entrepreneur has stated:

‘I don’t think universities should be training young people to craft a viable civilisation with one hand and bankroll its sabotage with the other.’

Sunniva Taylor, an Oxford alumna has further said:

‘If the university does not disinvest from fossil fuel extraction I have decided to hand back my degree, in protest. This is not just a question of integrity for me. I want to use the privilege having it gives me to try and shake things up; to use my power to draw attention to others’. The University of Oxford still has a lot influence – nationally and globally – and so the choices it makes about where it puts its money really do matter.

Ellen Gibson, an Oxford student states:

‘As a student, I am disappointed at Oxford University’s inaction on fossil fuel divestment today. They are choosing not to act at a time when inactivity is an increasingly risky and unethical move. Avoidance of divestment by the University will not slow our campaign or indeed the pressing need for meaningful action on the climate crisis.’

Louis Trup, OUSU President states:

“University council has seriously considered the proposals and has decided it wants to get more information before making a final decision, most likely in May. I hope that in the time between then and now, students continue to make it clear that the university has a moral duty to the planet and must listen to the its expert researchers who are leading calls to divest. My colleagues and I who sit on University Council will then be able to show that the significant student view and the undeniable scientific evidence must not be ignored. I also want to thank OUSU’s Environment and Ethics campaign for their work on this, which has proven that students can force the university to tackle these big issues.”

To view the statement on the OUSU website, click here:


One thought on “STATEMENT: Oxford University defers decision on divestment

  1. Is there a plan to put a resolution on fossil free divestment to Congregation? A decision to divest taken by Congregation would be binding on the whole University as stated in Statute 1V, Functions and Powers, para 2 (1).

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