Student fossil fuel protest hits Edinburgh streets

The student protesters unveil a banner on Calton Hill
The student protesters unveil a banner on Calton Hill
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STUDENTS protesting against Edinburgh University’s investment in fossil fuels have taken their campaign to the city’s streets and landmarks.

Earlier this month the institution said it would continue investing in companies that produce fossil fuels, but would work with them to cut carbon emissions.

But protesters accused the university of not taking climate change “seriously enough” and launched a campaign calling for full divestment from coal and tar sands.

This weekend saw large banners unfurled at various high-profile locations across the city, including Arthur’s Seat, the Scott Monument and the Castle, with student activists promising three “days of action” ahead of a final decision being taken by the university tomorrow.

Demonstrations have been held throughout the university’s campus, and today Neil Findlay, Labour MSP for Lothian, is expected to speak at a rally in support of the students.

Kirsty Haigh, an activist with student group People and Planet, promised some “surprises” as the drive to persuade the university to perform a U-turn heated up.

She also revealed a mass “die-in” – in which protesters simulate being dead – was planned for tomorrow, to symbolise all those who have lost their lives as a result of climate change around the world.

She said: “We want the university to make a U-turn, but at this stage the thing we are calling for is full divestment from coal and tar sands.”

On Sunday, more than 40 international climate justice and development organisations signed an open letter condemning Edinburgh for its refusal to divest from fossil fuels.

Student campaigner Lili Schwoerer promised activists would show the university the consequences of “taking the wrong decision”, saying: “Other universities have shown that this is the best way for them to influence the fossil fuel industry, and it’s time for Edinburgh to follow suit.”

A university spokesman said: “The university will always support the right of students to protest lawfully and peacefully. It remains committed to implementing the changes to its fossil fuel policy agreed by the university court.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com