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The fossil fuel industry is unequivocally driving us towards a global climate crisis: we will not keep dangerous climate change at bay without halting our extraction of fossil-fuels.

UK universities and colleges support the fossil fuel industry directly through their research, their £5.2bn investments in fossil fuel companies and their partnerships with some of the worst-offending companies in the world like ExxonMobil, BP and Shell.

University Fossil Fuels Links

See what links your university has to the fossil fuel industry. This includes investment, research into fossil fuels vs renewables and more...

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What We Are Calling For

If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. No UK university that cared about their reputation would accept funding from or invest their funds in tobacco companies these days - it’s inconsistent with their research on cancer. The same holds true for fossil fuel companies causing climate change and yet some universities still do not recognise this. That’s changing! With 68% of UK universities having made some form of commitment to extract themselves from fossil fuels, it's time the rest of the sector did likewise.

Fossil Free aims to challenge the social licence* of the fossil fuel industry to operate as it currently does. It does this by demanding all UK universities:

  1. Exclude the fossil fuel industry from their investment portfolio(s)

  2. Introduce a publicly accessible ethical investment policy that excludes the fossil fuel industry

  3. Commit to and fully divest from all fossil fuels within 3 years

*Social licence refers to the collective consent and acceptance that we, the people, provide to fossil fuel extractors so that they can continue with their destructive operations. We challenge their social licence by exposing the truth about their business models and the impacts they have on frontline communities and the climate. As well as by encouraging universities to cut ties with them for those reasons and to publicly announce that. Fossil Free as a global movement aims to shift public opinion so that fossil fuel extractor operations are not viewed as societally acceptable, anywhere.

If your university currently holds no investments in the fossil fuel industry, you can campaign for them to add their name to ours and NUS'Fossil Free Declaration! By signing this, universities are affirming their current fossil free status, as well as their commitment to remaining so in the future.

Don't know if your university holds investments in the fossil fuel industry? Check out our Fossil Free Scorecards to find out!

Divest Action Guide Fossil Free Declaration

Why focus on Fossil Fuels?

Climate change is already having massive effects on some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. No one wants to flee their home because of famine or conflict caused by extreme weather. Yet since 2008, climate-related disasters displaced 22 million people yearly across the world. Communities on the frontline of fossil fuel extraction are also seeing their land and ways of living destroyed.

Indigenous communities across the globe are resisting the expansion of extractive projects across the world and we should support their struggle.

If the fossil fuel industry had put people before profits, millions of people would not be losing their livelihoods or becoming refugees in their own countries and beyond. And worse is still to come. Fossil fuel companies hold five times more carbon in their fossil fuel reserves than we can safely afford to burn to stop runaway climate change - and are still spending billions searching for more.

200 publicly-traded companies hold the vast majority of the world’s proven coal, oil and gas reserves. Those are the companies we’ll be asking our institutions to break their links with.

From Canada’s dirty tar sands to Arctic drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) for shale gas - the fossil fuel industry is scraping the bottom of the barrel and causing huge environmental and human devastation in the process. Withdrawing our institutions’ financial and moral backing for this climate-wrecking industry is crucial to tackling climate change.

Divestment and Solidarity

Climate justice activism is at one of its most exciting, crucial junctures. Indeed, the movement is rapidly gaining momentum, and is becoming a site of truly creative, uncompromising action. The Fossil Free campaign is a key pillar of this movement.

So why is Fossil Free so special? In many ways, it is a uniquely effective solidarity campaign. Indeed, whilst it may seem that climate change knows no borders, the disproportionate impact of fossil fuel extraction on the Global South is immense. This gives rise to the well-trodden question: what can we do here to help?

True solidarity is about locating your own position(s) within the international system that funds, profits from and legitimises environmental destruction, and fighting from there. In other words – understanding how the institutions that we feed into, with our money and our legitimation are responsible for capitalism-induced climate change; the consequences of which are racist, classist, sexist and imperialist.

This is the crux of Fossil Free. Many grass-roots movements, governments and organisations in the Global South have for a long time vocalised their opposition to fossil fuel companies. From Nigeria to Bolivia, they have witnessed the devastating human cost of their activities first hand – and are aware of the future consequences that await them.

Divestment is one way we can help to weaken the fossil fuel industry further to support frontline communities in their fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

What Can I Do?

Join the Movement!

Get in touch to see if there's already a campaign at your university or if you can start one!

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Research Your University

Research your university's fossil fuel links through our Fossil Free Scorecards:

Fossil Free Scorecards

Get Organising!

If there isn't a campaign on your campus then why not get one going yourself? Since the campaign started there have been over 90 local Fossil Free groups in UK universities and colleges. With two-thirds of UK universities committed to divest it's time for us to mainstream divestment. Get in touch and we can support you to get things going.

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Book a Workshop

Would you like a Fossil Free campaign workshop at your university? Get in touch! Someone from the network can come up and deliver one at your campus.


Fossil Free is the quickest growing divestment movement in history! There are campaigns across the globe with hundreds of thousands of supporters.

So far due to student pressure 109 UK universities and 2 Irish have committed to divest from fossil fuels in some form. These commitments cover endowment wealth of over £17.7bn.

In the UK two organizations have broken their sponsorship links with fossil fuel companies; The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges dropped British Gas as a sponsor and Student Pride dropped BP as a sponsor!

Globally $40.56 trillion has been committed to divest from fossil fuel companies with over 1500 institutions pulling their money out.

Full list of UK commitments Global commitments

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