STUDENTS from Edinburgh University have occupied a management building to protest over the institution's decision to maintain investments in fossil fuels.


Around a dozen campaigners have staged a sit-in in the foyer of Charles Stewart House, in Chambers Street, in response to what they describe as the university's "reckless and irresponsible failure".

The students have pledged to remain in occupation until the university, which has a £290 million endowment, makes a commitment to divest from fossil fuels over the next five years.

The move comes after the university's governing body decided not to withdraw funding from fossil fuels despite a campaign from students and some academics.

Instead, the university said it would use the "leverage" of its investments to reduce carbon emissions in the fossil fuels industry and other sectors.

Kirsty Haigh, a student campaigner with Edinburgh University and vice president with NUS Scotland, said: "The fact our university has chosen to continue funding environmental degradation and human suffering shows that they care far more about profit than our futures.

"Saying there may be divestment in the future from certain companies if they fail to meet criteria around their carbon emissions is no real commitment and shows the university are refusing to acknowledge their role in devastating climate change."

Eleanor Dow, a student campaigner with Edinburgh University added: "Caveats on divestment are simply not good enough and are simply a way of delaying any decision even further.

"For years the university have been engaging with companies and it hasn't worked so far and so it's ignorant or at best naive to suggest this time it will work."

However, Professor Charlie Jeffery, senior vice-principal, insisted the university was committed to a change of investment policy.

He said: "Our commitment is to engage before divestment, but the expectation is that we will bring about change by engagement."

He said the university would divest from companies responsible for the extraction of the highest carbon-emitting fossil fuels such as coal and tar sands if "realistic alternative sources of energy" were available.