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Extinction Rebellion Cambridge revisits Trinity College for flashdance pop-up

A good-natured Extinction Rebellion flash-dance pop-up protest took place at Trinity College this afternoon (October 3), with campaigners performing to music by Björk and Pitbull in front of the college and beside the famed Newton lawn.

There was no incidence of disorder: police were in attendance.

A crowd of tourists and passers-by watched as around a dozen climate activists went through their synchronised moves. Some of the dancers were dressed in black, symbolising oil: the remainder were dressed in red with fire signs on their foreheads, with one passer-by saying they looked like “native American super-heroes”. The oil and fire imagery, said Extinction Rebellion Cambridge - who have said the divestment campaign will continue despite the University of Cambridge’s intention to divest from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuel entities by 2030 - represents “the damage to our planet caused by Trinity’s fossil fuel investments”.

The protest is the first since the University of Cambridge announced its divestment schedule on Thursday (October 1). The climate activist group stated that its concern is that “while the University itself announced on Thursday its plan to divest from fossil fuels, Trinity College has no current plans to remove its fossil fuel investments”.

Trinity is estimated to be the richest of the Cambridge colleges: its full investment portfolio is unspecified though reports suggest it has £9m invested in oil and gas companies, allegedly the most of any of the 45 Oxbridge colleges.

Despite inclement weather, protestors arrived at Trinity College with flags and banners telling Trinity College to “DIVEST from fossil fuels”. Re-clad protesters danced energetically to “Fireball” by rapper Pitbull while black-themed dancers moved slowly to “Black Lake” by Icelandic icon Björk – and lay down like an oil slick.

Extinction Rebellion Cambridge outside Trinity College this afternoon. Picture: Mike Scialom
Extinction Rebellion Cambridge outside Trinity College this afternoon. Picture: Mike Scialom

Jenny Langley, a chemist who studied at the University and Cambridge resident, said of the event: “Public opinion is changing about fossil fuel investments. Trinity College is under increasing pressure from its staff, students, Cambridge residents and environmental activists to cut its ties with the fossil fuel industry.

“Our dance today highlights not just the facts about Trinity’s investments, but also the consequences - wildfires, extreme weather events, food shortages and death.”

On Thursday the University’s vice-chancellor, Prof Stephen Toope, announced major changes in investment policy, including:

- Withdrawing investments with conventional energy-focused public equity managers by December 2020

- Building up significant investments in renewable energy by 2025

- Divesting from all meaningful exposure in fossil fuels by 2030

- Aiming to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its entire investment portfolio by 2038.

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