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STUDENT activists at King’s College London celebrated victory yesterday after the university announced that it would divest from all fossil fuel companies within the next five years.
An eight-week campaign by King’s College Climate Emergency (KCCE), which consisted of a number of direct actions culminating in a 14-day hunger strike by PhD student Roger Hallam and a 24-hour occupation of the university’s buildings, has prompted what has been hailed as “a significant change of policy” by one of Britain’s most prestigious universities.
On Wednesday evening, management formally agreed to divest from all fossil fuels by 2022 and gave a commitment to more than double investment in green and socially useful technologies.
Campaigners praised the “bold decision” to “substantially invest in research on how cultural change can be brought about, to enable the rapid transition which is required for the college and wider society. This, the campaigners agree, is integral to avoiding catastrophic changes in the world’s climate.”
KCCE engaged in a rolling programme of civil disobedience. Actions involved spraying, chalking and painting university walls to highlight the urgency of acting on climate change.
The students refused to back down in the face of arrests, jailing and suspensions, as well as numerous threats of criminal damage charges and being banned from university premises.
The activists have now agreed to stop all disruptive activities and Mr Hallam has ended his hunger strike.
He said: “This has been a hard-fought campaign, but students have stuck to their guns because this is a fight we can no longer afford to lose.
“My hunger strike galvanised the issue and showed we are totally serious about being out of time on climate change. It is now time for other universities to follow King’s example.”
Fellow campaigner Ruby Purvis added: “We are thoroughly pleased with the result today and relieved that Roger is able to cease his hunger strike.
“It is uplifting to finally get the result we were fighting for and we hope this is the first step towards a sustainable King’s.”
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