UK university cuts ties with coal lobby group, students call for full divestment

The University of Nottingham has confirmed it has severed all ties to coal industry lobby group Euracoal following a META investigation.

Students were outraged to learn that the University was a involved with the group, which describes itself as “the voice of coal in Europe“.

The University confirmed its membership of the group in response to a freedom of information request sent on 6 March. The email described the relationship as “historical” and claimed university administrators could find “no evidence that [the] membership is active“.

Days later the University of Nottingham’s name was removed from a list of members on the Euracoal website leading campaigners to question the nature of the relationship between the University and the industry group.

A change of heart? 

While the University failed to respond to a request for comment from META, last week a university spokesperson finally told student newspaper IMPACT:  “We are happy to make clear that we are not a member nor have any affiliations to Eurocoal [sic].

Students are now calling for the University to go further by announcing it will sell off all of its investments in all fossil fuels – a process known as “divestment”. A petition calling on the University to divest has already gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

The University of Durham in the north of England announced it would divest in the same week Nottingham’s membership of Euracoal was revealed and the famous Oxford-Cambridge University boat race was disrupted by students calling on those institutions to follow suit.

Nottingham’s recently-appointed Vice Chancellor, Professor Shearer West, was previously Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Sheffield, which divested during her time there.

Jane Meehan, the Campaign Chair of the University of Nottingham Fossil Free group, told IMPACT:

“The University of Nottingham has a moral obligation to divest from fossil fuels.”

She also said: “[The University] needs to make sure its investments are ethical and in line with their investment policy, in which they claim they do not invest in companies which demonstrate “explicit environmental damage”.”

The University’s spokesperson also told IMPACT:

“We are actively considering our position on fossil fuel divestment and hope to have more news on this soon.”