The Fossil Free UK campaign to break all ties between Britain’s 160+ higher education institutions and the fossil fuel industry received a massive boost this week.   With over 100 campaigns now active on campuses across the country, People & Planet have supported students and staff in almost a third of UK universities to #divest from fossil fuels in the last 3 years.

University of Bristol

Yesterday, Fossil Free University of Bristol announced that after 3 years of campaigning the University had agreed to a fossil fuel divestment plan, a great first step towards full divestment.  The commitment includes rapid divestment from thermal coal and tar sands companies and the students remain determined to decarbonise the rest of the universities portfolio from all oil and gas companies up and down the spectrum of the energy sector.

In the last 3 years the students at Bristol have gradually ramped up the pressure, securing the support of local councillors and using creative tactics including painting a huge mural along the side of the main M32 motorway through Bristol.

Bristol uni mural

King’s College London

As of this morning, after 3 years of tireless campaigning, King’s College London KCL announced that the university would divest from all fossil fuels by 2022.

The news came on the heels of a recent escalation by students which dramatically increased the pressure through a range of public, peaceful direct actions.  One student went on hunger strike 14 days ago and only broke his fast last night at the conclusion of a meeting with the University management that secured this agreement to divest. 

Next steps

The campaigning isn’t over yet as both institutions will need to be held accountable to their promises.  In the case of the University of Bristol the next step will be to monitor progress and to continue pushing for full divestment commitment from all fossil fuels.  At King’s College London, the agreement reached includes several caveats that leave the university wiggle room so students have committed to keep pressure on the university to speed up its implementation ahead of the 2022 deadline it set itself.

UK students have been building up considerable momentum in recent weeks and months that gives lots of hope and inspiration to those planning to participate in the Global Divestment Mobilisation in May 5 – 13.   Onwards!