Students at Edinburgh University have become the first in Scotland to vote to boycott all oil, gas and mining industry recruiters from campus.
Edinburgh University students’ association (EUSA) passed a motion to block fossil fuel companies from promoting work opportunities at events in their buildings, featuring them in any leaflets or booklets, or appearing at any digital talks they organise.
The union will also refuse to endorse or participate in any event where oil, gas, or mining companies are invited.
The move is part of an environmental drive called fossil-free careers, spearheaded by People & Planet to stop promoting jobs to graduates that cause environmental harm.
In the motion, the union said: “Inviting oil, gas, and mining companies to advertise with the careers service adds legitimacy to the idea that these companies are an acceptable part of our society and our future.
“The university’s careers service has a responsibility to its students to promote jobs with a future.
“Ending this university’s complicity in career pipelines into the oil, gas, and mining industry is an effective method of showing solidarity with communities affected by these companies’ operations”.
Fergus Green, climate campaigns coordinator at People & Planet, said: “It is fantastic to see Edinburgh Students’ Association back its students and join the fight for Fossil Free Careers”.
“There is currently a wave of student anger at the presence of oil, gas, and mining recruiters on university campuses, and this action will undoubtedly be the first of many in Scotland and across the UK,” Green said.
“We encourage all university careers services to be proactive, and implement ethical careers policies in line with a sustainable and just future immediately”.
Rowena Nankivelli, campaigner with Edinburgh People & Planet said: “It is brilliant that EUSA is proud to support our campaign and recognise that the fossil fuel industry is dying and unsustainable, not only for the planet, but for students’ careers themselves.
“We hope this will put further pressure on the University to end its recruitment relationships with oil, gas and mining companies and adopt an ethical careers policy”.
A drive to stop universities collaborating with the sector has also been spearheaded by lecturers. On Monday 21 March, 500 academics signed an open letter calling for universities to stop accepting funding from fossil fuel companies to conduct climate research.
The former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and Nasa data scientist Peter Kalmus are among the signatories who wrote that accepting the funding gave companies the opportunity to “greenwash” their work and could “taint” essential research.
EUSA will also put pressure on the University of Edinburgh to take the same approach. Student campaigners will push for the university to exclude fossil fuel recruiters from its careers fairs and service, and publish an ‘ethical careers policy’.
It argues that if gambling and tobacco industry cannot advertise their services at university careers fairs, then fossil fuel companies should be excluded on the same grounds.
A spokesperson for Edinburgh University said while the institution “recognises climate change as one of the most pressing issues for humanity,” it is “devoted to debate and free expression of ideas” and has “no plans to exclude individual companies or sectors from our campuses”.
“Our careers service offers an impartial service, which enables and supports all students to make informed choices about their futures,” they said.
“We believe in working with all of society to make the fundamental changes necessary to move towards a zero carbon, sustainable future and to helping industries transition from polluting fossil fuels to the energy systems of the future.
“As a University devoted to research, debate and free expression of ideas we have no plans to exclude individual companies or sectors from our campuses – our preference is to work with companies to assist in making the transition we all need to make”.