Northern Ireland

Queen's University Belfast students stage fossil fuels sit-in

Students occupying university floor
Image caption The students claimed the university was being intransigent

About 15 students are occupying part of a Queen's University Belfast building in protest at its failure to commit to divestment from fossil fuels.

They have occupied a floor of the university's administration building.

The students, from the Fossil Free QUB group, began their action following a winter graduation ceremony on Friday afternoon.

They claim they will "indefinitely" occupy the floor, at the rear of the 'quad' in the main Lanyon building.

The building is home to the university's finance, academic and student affairs departments.

The students are calling for the university to withdraw its investments entirely from fossil fuel corporations and to pursue a renewable energy agenda.

'Symbolic'

One of the students involved, Sean Fearon, said the university was being "intransigent" in refusing to commit to divestment.

"They have offered to review their ethical investment policy, which we see as an attempt to slow the campaign," he said.

"We want a timetable for a five-year programme for the university to withdraw any investments in fossil fuels.

"As the United Nations Conference on Climate Change is ending, it is symbolic that we've taken action to fight for our future and a cleaner planet."

He said the students planned to stay in the building until the university negotiated "properly" about their investments.

In a statement, a spokesman for Queen's said: "At its meeting on 14 October 2015, the university investment committee agreed to carry out a comprehensive review of its investment policy.

"The review is expected to take six to nine months and will be informed by best practice in the area of socially responsible investment.

"As part of this review the university has engaged directly with students of Fossil Free QUB.

"To help inform the investment policy review a workshop will be held in early January 2016 and will include students from Fossil Free QUB."

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