Join the Fossil Free Campaign

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

Find your university here to see what links it has to the fossil fuel industry. This includes investment, research into fossil fuels vrs renewables and more...

What is the People & Planet Network calling for?

If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. No UK university or college in their right mind 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 most universities and colleges still do not recognise this. That’s about to change!

Students across the UK are demanding their universities and colleges:

1. Move the Money

  • Screen for and exclude the fossil fuel industry from their investment portfolio
  • Immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies
  • Divest from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in the Just Transition within 5 years

2. Stop the Greenwash

  • Publish full details of their financial and other ties to the fossil fuel industry
  • Stop giving out honorary degrees to fossil fuel industry CEOs
  • Stop accepting sponsorship and advertising from fossil fuel companies

3. Support a Clean Energy Future

  • Provide students with ethical careers advice and opportunities
  • Refocus research & expertise on climate solutions and phase out climate-damaging fossil fuel research
  • Demand more research funding for renewables from government

As increasing numbers of universities divest from fossil fuels, students have decided to take the fight for divestment to the banks and financial institutions that loan vast amounts of cash to exploit new fossil fuel reserves. The first target for this campaign is Barclays bank.

The high street bank is notorious with a bad track record of being on the wrong side of history, playing a particularly prominent role in funding the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Barclays is at it again, and has been complicit in the climate crisis for decades. The bank has a long history of financing violent fossil fuel extraction across the world, bankrolling social and environmental destruction, including Third Energy Frackers in the UK, the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia and the Alberta tar sands in Canada.

Students have shut down Barclays branches in 60 different cities to call on Barclays to stop financing extreme energy development in the UK and across the world. Why not do the same?

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, 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 been 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?

See if there's already a campaign at your university:

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 more than a quarter 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.

How to win on fossil fuel divestment.

1. Start a Petition

An effective way of building your campaign, attracting new students and putting pressure on your institution is through a petition.

Get started and create your own online petition using our tool. You’ll have full control over the wording and design of your petition. The petition tool also allows you to share it easily on social media and build your contacts list - you can email the people who’ve signed to keep them updated about your campaign progress and events.

Start a petition on our petition website

Click the button/link above, then just click the New Campaign button to get started with your own petition.

2. Build your Group

All good campaigns start with a good team. Start recruiting!

All good campaigns start with a strong team. Get together with your friends, recruit the best activists on campus, and remember to think outside the box about who to invite: a diversity of experiences and opinions often makes a group  stronger. Doing a creative action early on is a really great way to build trust and get to know each other. Time spent painting banners can be a great chance to have a chat and helps new members without much prior experience get involved quickly!

3. Plan the Campaign

The campaign you run will depend on your institution - they’re all different...

One of the most important things for a successful campaign is keeping up momentum and not trying to do everything at once. Sit down with a calendar and figure out how you can keep up excitement over the coming months. Remember, good campaigns are like good stories; the more interesting your narrative, the more likely people will want to follow along and take part. One of the first things you'll realise is that you wan to know what links your institution has to the fossil fuel industry. Luckily as part of the People & Planet University League we have pulled together a Fossil Free score card that has all this info.

4. Build Support

It’s time to raise awareness on campus and build the support for your campaign: Start a petision, get creative, use the media.

Campaigns often falter because they turn into back room negotiations with an investment committee, rather than a public-facing effort that galvanises campus and community support. As you plan out your campaign, make sure to identify ways that you and your group can stay visible on campus to raise awareness and build campus support among students and staff.

5. Turn up the Heat

Once you’ve built up some student support, it’s time to turn up the heat!

Send your petition to the Vice Chancellor in a creative way, host a demonstration outside their building, or publish an editorial in the campus newspaper pushing for divestment...

6. Convince them

To win, You will need to convince the decision-makers at your institution.

Throughout the campaign, as well as your crucial awareness raising activities on campus, you will also need to engage in ‘inside track’ campaigning. This means engaging with the institution’s administration in a respectful and professional way, building and making a serious case for why they should divest or drop a particular sponsor.

7. Escalate or WIN!

Be ready for any outcome: prepare to celebrate or to escalate your campaign.

When your institution is about to make a decision on your Fossil Free campaign, you need to be ready for any outcome. That means being prepared with press releases, but also having plans in place for celebration or escalation actions.