On 25th November 2019, the occupation of the Finance Boardroom by the Fossil Free UoM campaign, run by the People and Planet society, ended after 7 days. The decision to end this occupation was taken after a joint statement was agreed between senior members of the University of Manchester and the Students’ Union.
In this statement we are pleased that they have agreed to a full review of the Socially Responsible Investment Policy, to be completed by 31st July 2020, and to be implemented from 1st August 2020. We are also happy to see the university exploring the potential to decarbonise their substantial investments. Whilst we remain disappointed that immediate
divestment of ecocide causing companies isn’t happening, the potential to transform the £200 million investment portfolio into a weapon against climate change goes even further than the process of divestment. This process will begin on 12th December with detailed discussions of decarbonisation, which members of the Student Union Executive team will
This has been an incredibly difficult experience for all involved in the occupation, not just from the physical constraints imposed by the nature of the occupation, in which the
University sought to prevent the entrance of food and other supplies, but also by the callous and uncommunicative response of the Senior Administration to their students. Ultimately, the decision to end the occupation has not been taken lightly, and we have discussed this extensively. However, we have accepted this statement because of the enormous potential it offers, which could go far further than simply divestment from fossil fuel companies.
Therefore, 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.
With the release of this statement by the University of Manchester and the Students Union, the University will be under unprecedented public scrutiny to achieve divestment and to continue their efforts to reduce their contributions to the climate crisis, and actively lead in the fight against it.
The statement’s increased emphasis on student engagement has opened new channels through which the student body can have a far greater say in the running of the University. This development does not just benefit People and Planet, but many other student campaigns, with who we stand in solidarity.
This campaign is bigger than People and Planet, the University, or even the city of Manchester. The messages of solidarity that the occupation received from activists as far
apart as Australia and the USA, and from all the supporters of the campaign across the country have shown that the fight against the fossil fuel industry and the wider climate crisis
will not stop here, and will continue until the future of our planet has been secured.
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
Fossil Free Manchester