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Staff back students across fossil fuel campaign.

Byline: HENRYK ZIENTEK @HenrykZientek

FIFTY staff at the University of Huddersfield are backing a student-led campaign for it to sign the Fossil Free Declaration.

Professors, senior lecturers and department heads are among the 50 staff who have signed an open letter to vice-chancellor Prof Bob Cryan urging the university to make a public fossil free commitment and refuse any future investment in fossil fuel companies.

The call follows the university's recent statement that it screens its investments for fossil fuels.

Paul Ward, professor in modern history and head of the department of history, English, languages and media, said: "The university has recently stated that is does not invest in fossil fuels so it should not be a big ask for it to sign up to the Fossil Free Declaration enshrining this policy for the future.

"By making a public Fossil Free commitment Huddersfield would join over a third of UK Universities who have already committed to going Fossil Free. We call on the university to act now and show us to be a shining example of a higher educational institution.

I've learnt through my study of the past, that it needs individuals and institutions to speak up to protect the future."

Megan Bennett, a postgraduate student at the university, said: "Huddersfield University has a moral responsibility to its students and staff to protect our futures and do everything in its power to tackle the threat of catastrophic climate change.

"Signing the Fossil Free Declaration would help stigmatise the fossil fuel companies responsible for climate change.

"The university is telling us that it already screens its investments for fossil fuels, which is fantastic news, so making a public commitment would just affirm what it is already doing. We are unsure as to why the university is reluctant to take this next step."

The open letter states: "We fully support and encourage the university's commitments to reducing its own carbon emissions.

"However, in parallel with that we advocate that the university makes a clear public divestment commitment that it does not support the fossil fuel industry.

"The need for urgent action is clear. The climate crisis requires action on all fronts including: using our research and teaching to inform and enable change, reducing the University's own carbon emissions, and making a public Fossil Free commitment by signing the Fossil Free Declaration. We very much hope that the university management will come to the same view."

A spokesperson for the university said: "As we pointed out in our previous statement on this subject, the university has no investments in fossil fuel-linked businesses and adopted an ethical investment policy some time ago which covers a range of environmental issues."


Academics have written an open letter to Prof Bob Cryan urging the uni to sign the Fossil Free Declaration

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jan 5, 2018
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