Archive | February, 2016

A letter to Prof. O’Shea from a University Lecturer

20 Feb

The People and Planet campaign to get our University to invest ethically and divest from arms companies and fossil fuels continues. For 5 years we’ve petitioned, written letters, done stunts, sat in meetings, done banner drops and held an occupation. Last week we picketed Charles Stewart House (where University finance are located) and shut down the building because the University are still failing to meet our asks and help save the planet. Following our action Materials Chemistry lecturer Mark de Vries sent this letter of support to the Principal…

Dear Prof. O’Shea,

This is in support of the students from People and Planet Edinburgh Uni and their request for the management to divest from fossil fuels and arms. I appreciate the disruption to normal operations is unwelcome, but such disruption would not have been there if the University had been run democratically, fairly reflecting the views of staff and students.

Half a year on from the latest decisions on this topic by the University a lot has changed. The weather patterns we have all seen this autumn and winter have been thoroughly disturbing and have hurt many households and businesses in the UK. Will we see cherry blossoms in the Meadows this spring? All across Western Europe the buds were coming in December due to the record high temperatures. If these buds are killed off by the later frosts it will be a sad reminder of the consequences of your fossil fuel use and the apparent determination to continue to do so. It is easy to see that already now it becomes more difficult to grow fruit do to chaotic weather patterns. This is just one of the ways climate change is affecting people right now, and increasing inequality and insecurity.

A world without fossil fuels is possible – please be open to alternative views, to an alternative mindset, to low-carbon ways of life. The students from People and Planet are the vocal ones, but also here in the School of Chemistry many staff and students are anxious and want solid action on climate change. Of course the University is doing many good things and I have always been grateful for having been part of this University for so long, but the problem right now is that all of us at the University model a high-carbon lifestyle and work style. This should call for humbleness and a lot of action locally. This is not a time to sit back and proudly look at what we have achieved so far. It is probably unavoidable that we have to accept some financial and existential pain as part of this. However, if we as a society fail to go far enough with our actions, then that is utterly sad, and a great evil. Universities should take the lead and help to avoid this.

With a number of colleagues I wrote a statement in support of the Zero Carbon Britain plan of action for the UK. It is available here:…/an-effective…/…

To limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees we need to be virtually fossil-fuel free before 2035 though. As you know the 1.5 degrees rise is set by scientists and the global community has agreed to work towards this. Please help and put the weight of the University behind this too. It would require far-reaching action right now though. Where there is a will there is a way.

Does the University management agree we should work hard to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 C?


Mark de Vries.


You can also show your support for the campaign by emailing

or tweeting @EdinburghUni #divesttherestEd

or giving the University a bad Google review!



Why we’re picketing…

12 Feb

Here’s some statements from some of our picketers about why they’ve spent this morning sitting out in the cold.

I’m here to demand Edinburgh University support the fossil free future that awaits generations to come – Josephine

I’m here because I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the university I attend to stop funding the destruction of communities and the environment with their reckless investments in fossil fuels and arms trading. – Andy

I am here because it is hypocritical that the university which purports to prepare us for a successful future is simultaneously thwarting that future and I want my university to live up to its great reputation and take the only ethical and possible course of action. – Chloe

Edinburgh University has the power to be such a positive force in the world through its investments. – Student Campaigner

I’m here because we are getting dangerously close to tipping point. The longer we give industries that have been complicit in climate denial, profiting from war, humanitarian and environmental destruction the space in our investments the closer we edge towards climate chaos on a scale unimaginable. – Eleanor Dow



I am participating in the action not because I am naive, pathetic, and insensitive, as one of the staff members accused us of being, but because I’ve had enough of months of the University’s only going halfway on a commitment it should have made months ago: to FULLY divest from fossil fuels and arms. As long as my University continues to invest its alumni’s money in violence and climate change, I will continue to protest, doing what it takes for the University to notice us and change ITS insensitive actions.-  Melanie Espamer

I am here because inaction and apathy perpetuate an unequal and unfair world. – Jack Guariento

I’m joining the campaign: I think People & Planet’s work is important and because I want to show the uni that their investments are highly unethical. – Student campaigner

Our University are a shambles. They continue to claim to be a world leader in sustainability while continuing to foot the bill for climate change. Climate change isn’t a joke. It’s destroying our planet and will ruin our lives and decimate those of our future generations. Our University is aware of this but continues to be complicit in funding fossil fuels regardless. – Kirsty Haigh

You can read the official statement on why we’re occupying here:


Today we picket, then you comply or we occupy

12 Feb

This is a statement by People and Planet Edinburgh and supported by the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, Edinburgh University Marxist Society, Edinburgh University Feminist Society, Bollocks to Poverty Society, Scottish Young Labour, Scottish Labour Young Socialists and  Momentum Edinburgh

If Edinburgh University fails to commit to full divestment from arms and fossil fuel companies by Friday 31st March, we will take further action.

Today we are taking action in response to Edinburgh’s continued investments in the fossil fuel and arms industries. After a major occupation of Charles Stewart House, Edinburgh University withdrew its investments in coal and tar sands companies. However, the University has willfully ignored the rest of its unethical investments in weapons, oil and gas. As of November 2015, over six million pounds remain invested in these industries, legitimising the practice of profiting from the deaths, present and future, of some of the most vulnerable peoples in the world. Collectively, we must draw the red lines which Edinburgh cannot cross.

         The first red line is the 2℃ temperature rise which which we must avoid in order to stop catastrophic climate change. To do this, we cannot burn 80% of known fossil fuel reserves, yet this toxic industry persists with its dangerous extraction. This is not simply a matter of emissions. The second red line is that of climate justice, the recognition that climate change is the consequence of resource exploitation and overconsumption by Western colonial powers. We must take action to rectify this historical injustice. We stand in solidarity with those living on the frontlines of climate change, such as those in the US whose water has been polluted by fracking, and indigenous communities whose ancestral homes are being destroyed by tar sands extraction.

        Importantly we are also students uniting against the marketisation of the education system. When universities put profit before global responsibility it is in the hands of students to take action.


*The companies we have identified as manufacturing arms according to our most recent FOI request are Meggitt PLC and Heico Corp. We are aware that the University’s new investment policy means they are no longer investing in Rolls Royce. For future investments, we require Edinburgh to commit to no longer investing in companies whose turnover is made up of over 5% weapons.  

*The companies we have identified as extracting oil and gas are: Apache Corp, BG Group, EOG Resources,Total,EnQuest,Wood Group and Premier Oil PLC. In terms of future investment, we are looking for a commitment to never invest in any company which takes over 5% of its turnover from any fossil fuel.
Red Lines 001


To show your continued support of the campaign you can email:

Tweet the University at @EdinburghUni #DivesttherestEd