Cambridge University refuses donations from fossil fuel firms amid student pressure

Cambridge University has stopped accepting donations from fossil fuel firms including BP and Shell after pressure from students and academics.

The prestigious university has said it will stop accepting financial gifts from the businesses until the process for accepting donations is reviewed, following an independent report which warned that failings in the process created a ‘high reputational risk’.

The university has faced pressure to make the move from students and academics after an independent report by a former UN climate change envoy, who advised the university to halt dealings with gas producers in favour of green companies.

Jason Scott-Warren, a Cambridge professor who backed the moratorium, told the Financial Times that:  “Accepting funding from fossil fuel companies validates the industry at a time when it is threatening the future viability of life on earth, including by developing new oil and gas infrastructure.”

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According to a report from John Topping, the former UN climate change envoy, the fossil fuel sector made up 0.4% of the university’s research and philanthropy funding in the six years up to 2022.

Between them, Shell and BP have donated at least £19.7m to the university in philanthropic and research funding between 2016 and 2023, according to analysis of university data.

Cambridge University has a target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2038, and plans to divest from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels by 2030.

Last year, it was revealed the university was divesting from Barclays, amid concerns about the banks continued links with fossil fuels.

Some 21 UK universities led by Cambridge have threatened banks and asset managers they will shift billions of pounds into ‘greener’ banks over fossil fuel financing.

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