Students end occupation after university agrees to consider fossil fuel divestment

191125 occupation support People & Planet UoM2

Some of the students occupying a Manchester University building in a protest about investment in fossil fuel companies. Photo: People & Planet UoM

An occupation in protest at Manchester University’s investment in fossil fuels ended after seven days this evening.

Students from the group People & Planet UoM agreed to leave the John Owen building when the university authorities agreed to bring forward by a year the planned review of the socially responsible investment policy.

The group said the university had almost £12m invested in fossil fuel companies. Four students had been preparing to go on hunger strike from midnight if the university did not agree to disinvest.

The university and students union signed a joint statement this evening which acknowledged the urgency of the issue of climate crisis and the increased scale of the challenge since the policy was last updated in 2016.

The statement said the review would be completed by 31 July 2020. It also promised “meaningful engagement with the wider student, staff and alumni bodies” as part of the review. Changes would be embedded in the university’s new strategic plan, the statement added.

People & Planet UoM said it was disappointed that there would not be immediate disinvestment in fossil fuels. But it said:

“We are also happy to see the university exploring the potential to decarbonise their substantial investments.

“The potential to transform the £200m investment portfolio into a weapon against climate change goes even further than the process of divestment.”

People & Planet UoM said this process would begin on 12 December, when students would sit on the university’s investment sub-committee to discuss scope for wider decarbonisation in the investment portfolio.


The group described the occupation as “an incredibly difficult experience”. It accused the university of preventing food and other supplies reaching the protesters.

It said:

“We are putting what little trust we have left in the university to uphold these agreements and to continue to engage with students and staff on this and other concerns regarding the climate crisis.”

The group added that new channels had opened through which the student body could have a greater say in running of the university.

“This development does not just benefit People & Planet, but many other student campaigns, with whom we stand in solidarity.

“We will carry on taking action every step of the way to ensure all commitments made by the university are delivered, with clear timescales being developed by students, staff and alumni.”

26 replies »

  1. “We are putting what little trust we have left in the university to uphold these agreements and to continue to engage with students and staff on this and other concerns regarding the climate crisis.”

    Awww diddums, poor millennials! What are they going to type on, maybe an education on the amount of plastics / electronics are used in engineering academia and whether this can be introduced in to the UoM MSc in Petroleum Geoscience programme?

    • Eli. What proportion of the world’s exploited fossil fuels are used for the more essential and reusable plastics, as compared to the single use plastic, heating, transport etc? Wouldn’t that exhaustable supply last almost indefinitely if we only used it for the essentials and used renewable sources for the rest, along with banning single use plastic?

      • Would that ban on single use plastic include where it is used in medical, research and humanitarian aid situations, and in situations where using aluminium, glass, paper or compostable plastics as alternatives would have a greater environmental impact, pushing up resource, water and energy use along with increasing carbon emissions?

        • Banning of / or replacing single use I agree with. But the use of renewables to replace heating and transport… then your dreaming!

          • Ah there you are at last. Partially dreaming yes, given the inertia of world govts backed by their fossil fuel lobbyists. So what is the total energy that is available for us to exploit a miniscule amount of – solar, wind, wave, tidal, hydro, geothermal for heating, transport etc? Only 2% of the solar energy hitting earth would need to be harnessed for our current energy needs. Yes it’ll take funding and political will, but are you saying that it’s not possible or entirely feasible? In that case, what do we do when the fossil fuels run low/out or become too difficult and expensive to exploit?

        • What ban on single use plastic John? Have I missed something miraculous? Where have you gone Eli – surely my questions weren’t that difficult?

  2. Eli,
    So despite the facts proving emphatically that fossil fuels are the biggest cause of climate change, you seem to think that continuing to abstract fossil fuels out of the ground I.e “business as usual” is the way forward? What happens to the wells when they fail? …and yes, the industry recognizes that ALL WELLS FAIL! So, what is your “masterplan” to combat the climate crisis??

    • Water is Life: Wrong that fossil fuels are the biggest cause of climate change. ‘the use, and the way fossil fuels consumed are the biggest cause of climate change.

    • Nope, WIS, fossil fuels are NOT the biggest cause of climate change. Population is ahead of that, so is solar activity. A few major volcanoes would be ahead of that. Do you think there is an easy answer for any of those- a masterplan?

      At the moment, you are suggesting dealing with something down the league table will somehow solve the issue. It will not, and whether it is the case you don’t realise that, or you want to excite others not to realise that, it doesn’t make any difference. But, it would be helpful if you got your facts correct.

      • Relevant extracts from the link below for the benefit of Mr. Collier. I have used a link to a website which I hope you may find credible.

        ‘Volcanic eruptions and changes in solar activity affect our climate but they alone can’t explain the changes in temperature seen over the last century ‘.

        ‘CO2 levels have increased by about 45% since before the industrial revolution. Other greenhouse gases have increased by similarly large amounts. The increase is mainly caused by
        * the burning of fossil fuels for energy
        * agriculture and deforestation
        * the manufacture of cement, chemicals and metals.’

        • Well, Fifum, there are reading classes available!

          Apart from getting my name correct, perhaps read again what I stated. Absolutely NOTHING to do with ALONE, but where fossil fuels fit within the overall magnitude. (NOT the biggest cause was the clue.) Additionally, any analyses that ignores the daily activities of over 7 BILLION people, is pretty obviously missing something-unless they have all stopped producing CO2. Not quite 7 BILLION plus BEFORE the industrial revolution.

          Do you really believe there are many out there who totally ignore what is obvious and just follow one reference?? Mind you, I note another reference today on BBC that states spuds will be expensive at Christmas due to recent floods. Ever grown spuds? Still in the ground in November? Surprised you were not rushing to the shops to get some quick!

          Credible, as part of the situation. Lacking as a complete picture.

          But, it is a confusing world. Who would have thought Conan was a bitch? Sometimes even the most obvious reference doesn’t lead to the reality.

          • Ever the pedant. Perhaps YOU can provide some evidence to support your statement that earthquakes and solar activity are bigger causes of climate change than fossil fuels. One link will do, I’m not greedy. The rest of your post I shall ignore, it is irrelevant to the discussion. As for the Conan remark, I’m afraid I just don’t get it, is it an attempt at an insult?

            • Giggle Ice Age, Fifi. Or, you forgot about that? You will also find data around mini ice ages at the same time if you look close enough. I don’t believe I mentioned anything about earthquakes. Freud seems to be having a field day this week.

              Try to Giggle Conan/Trump and you will find the answer. No insult, just trying to demonstrate how easily people can be confused.

              Let me know what you learn from your homework.

              • My sincere apologies Martin, I meant volcanoes of course, not earthquakes.

                I decided instead to research past global warming events which seemed to me to be more relevant than an ice age.

                I came across this report regarding a study published earlier this year in ‘Nature Geoscience’.


                There are other reports to be found regarding this subject but in all of them the salient points, in my opinion are:-

                Extreme warming events are always caused by increases of CO2

                These past events took place slowly over many thousands of years whereas today’s warming has only taken 150 years.
                Pause for thought.

                As for gossip about Trump, I’m not the least bit interested.

                • How did the Vikings, in Norway, build their boats out of trees that will not grow in the area now because it is too cold, Fifi? An interesting question raised by a Norwegian in Norway, when we were discussing history. He gave me the answer but I am sure you can work it out.

                  Conversely, how was skating on the Thames a few hundred years ago managed?

                  Maybe it was volcanic events (CO2), maybe solar activity (not CO2)-but certainly not man made.

                  You are correct about avoiding gossip about Trump, but not the reality behind it. Here, we have the media unable to decide upon the sex of a dog that has now been exhibited to the public, as it is much more amusing to them to try and “demonstrate” something else. So, “news” is not always about giving correct information, even when that is a very simple thing to achieve.

                  My Christmas spuds are 30p/kg. Can’t be so, because the BBC reports different. LOL

  3. Yes, so students decide to strike and miss education, but then end the strike when they can have some time off with no education! That thinking, and their focus upon food should set them up in life-to ask, “do you want fries with that?”

    • MC, Classic! Fries and a large order please!

      But isn’t the meat industry causing Climate Change? and haven’t the Vegan inspired plant based beyond burgers high sodium ingredients potentially linked heart, kidney disease? The poor honey bees being exploited to pollenate more plant based demand! Has anyone given them a heads up?

  4. I see huge numbers of tractors are descending upon Berlin TODAY as German farmers protest about unworkable Green policies!

    The irony will be lost upon some that their policies are creating excessive use of DIESEL to protest against them.

    Not as straight forward as some would try and make out, is it?

  5. I was in Singapore recently. There was a good piece on their energy use. Currently 95% of their electricity is generated using LPG. Would anybody have an advice on how the 5.5 million residents of Singapore should obtain their electricity without imported gas?

  6. Lovely zoo-as they go- in Singapore, David. Very surprising to see lions with no fence between visitors and them. On closer inspection, I noticed the moat! Maybe that is the reason I tend to be cynical of what is the first appearance but on closer inspection is not the whole story?

    Orchid Gardens somewhat less exciting, but lovely.

    • I used to be a “Friend of the Zoo” when I lived there and our wedding photos were taken in the Botanical Gardens. Dispite the huge taxes on cars the roads seemed as busy as ever.

  7. Strange how things connect, David.

    Blackpool and Singapore.

    Father did his basic training in Blackpool at start of WW2. The squads paraded at the end of training to learn their assignments. His squad was moved one place as there was a delay in forming up. The squad that positioned into his normal place was sent to Singapore, his squad then received the next posting-which was Birmingham!

    He did do the lottery religiously in later life, but with no joy. I think he had used up his ration of luck.

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