Today marks nine days since PhD researcher Roger Hallam began hunger strike in protest at Kings College London’ s continued investment in fossil fuels. Last night he said:
I’m entering the second week of a hunger strike to get King’s College to enter into serious negotiations on fossil fuel divestment at which point I will end the fast.
It looks like they are considering such a move so please sign this petition (which includes details of the situation) and send an email to the Principal Edward Byrne at [email protected] to give him the same message. If we can keep up the pressure for the next few days we could win this campaign.
He has previously been arrested and detained overnight for daubing a column at the University with poster paint; the University suspended the 50-year-old and said he had caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage with chalk paint, but the suspension was overturned last week and Mr Hallam has returned to campus. He was subsequently charged with criminal damage and fined £500.
Students from KCCE want the University to divest from companies profiting from oil companies and environmentally damaging practices. A 2013 FOI request found that King’s have £8 million worth of investments in companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell and PetroChina.
In September 2016 the University agreed to partially divest, but since then there has been little in the way of a change of policy from KCL. Hallam said:
After signing petitions and sitting in committees for years it has now become necessary to spray paint the entrance of an institution which has been ignoring basic science on climate change for three decades. They’re so reluctant; it’s unbelievable.
Mr Hallam plans to sit outside the campus and continue his hunger strike until KCL enters into “credible negotiations to fulfil our demand, which is a decision to divest from all fossil fuels.”
A KCL spokesperson said:
The University has successfully engaged with students since November 2014 on the issue of climate change and following this a policy was agreed by our governing council in September 2016.
This policy was supported by the Fossil Free KCL campaign and will see the University reducing investments in companies involved in the ‘dirtiest’ fuels like tar sands oil and thermal coal and move towards opportunities to support low carbon alternatives.
Divestment from fossil fuels has recently gained support in the from of a first-of-its-kind fossil fuel divestment legislation from The Irish Parliament. The World Medical Association has also called on its members to divest from fossil fuels.
The KCCE plan to continue their protests on a weekly basis leading with a further demonstration planned on March 4th. Details of the event can be found here.