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.
Thank you for the support we have received over the past week, it means the world! 🌎 pic.twitter.com/zmKmCD4hpa
— People & Planet UoM | OCCUPATION DAY 7 (@PeopleUom) November 25, 2019
The group described the occupation as “an incredibly difficult experience”. It accused the university of preventing food and other supplies reaching the protesters.
“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.”