7. 100% clean energy at UCU, USS, in all universities, investments and endowments, not more toxic gas, oil or coal

The problems

We have a climate emergency, and it’s not enough to declare it, or change consumption habits as individuals. We need a rapid, structural and global revolution for 100% clean electricity, transport, heating and buildings. We need “now zero”, not “net zero by 2050”, 2030, or other useless delay tactics and greenwash. And it’s not enough to have a good pension in retirement. We need a living planet to go with that pension. All of our workplaces, all of our universities and colleges, all of our capital funds need to go into action as a moral imperative, but also because the financial cost of inaction is so huge. Solar, wind and batteries are already cheaper than toxic gas, coal or woodburning stations. Electric vehicles are already cheaper than petrol or diesel overall, and will be upfront by 2025. Heat pumps, induction and insulation cut bills more than gas. And more than money, toxic air pollution in the UK costs the NHS £6 billion every year. As a union movement, we must lead the way for a “just cessation” of fossil fuels, and revolution to win a clean, democratic economy.

The solutions

If you vote, we will transform UCU itself to have “now zero” fossil fuels, we will make every university and college follow our example, and we will enhance our pensions and endowment funds by making them a global force for the clean energy revolution. Like Harvard’s endowment fund or the Dutch pension funds, we will divest toxic gas, oil and coal. And even more crucially, we will lead the way in ensuring all shareholder rights at USS and university endowments are voted to make every company go clean. We will shift markets, and join the lobby for legislation to make all UK funds do the same. Our members want their savings for a fair retirement, not to be squandered in a fossil fuelled  vortex that enflames the planet. We will take legal and collective action against universities and individuals who don’t get it, and throw around distant targets, whether at USS, or in university boards. We will win our future back.

How we do it

We will only win back our future and a living planet with swift action. So we must:

  • lead by example, investing in UCU first to cut our future bills and turn all electricity renewable, all heating clean, and all vehicles electric, as well as crafting a comprehensive green-employer policy,
  • take robust action to divest USS and SAUL from fossil fuels, and write 100% clean energy voting policies,
  • collectively bargain for every university and college to go 100% clean, divest its endowment fund, vote clean, and reject fossil fuel money – and rank and publicise their scores for students to choose.

More reading on clean energy and the right to the benefits of science: