Last night, Extinction Rebellion Cambridge and Extinction Rebellion Youth Cambridge launched a new campaign against the oilfield services company Schlumberger and its connections to the University of Cambridge. The groups sprayed fake oil over the University's governing building, Senate House, and stencilled "SCHLUMBERGER - CLIMATE KILLERS - CUT TIES NOW" on it. On the same night, activists from Extinction Rebellion Buddhists stencilled "CAMBRIDGE CLIMATE EMERGENCY CENTRE" in paint on the Schlumberger Gould Research Facility, located on the University's West Cambridge Site.
One activist, Patrick, a mechanical engineer, said: "We know this action is going to cause some controversy, but we ask people to consider this: if you're angry that fake oil has been sprayed on the old and beautiful Senate House, how do you feel about the real, toxic oil being spilled over our much older, more beautiful, and fragile planet? How do you feel about one of most respected universities in the world working with a company that has over 36,000 patents in oil and gas technology to facilitate extracting the dirtiest fossil fuels? This is happening as the University's own climate scientists tell us we can't extract a drop more oil without causing catastrophic climate breakdown. We all know by now how serious the climate crisis is; to deal with it, we have to cut off fossil fuel research now."
The new campaign is focusing on removing Schlumberger, the world's biggest fossil fuel services company , from Cambridge by the end of 2022, with the aim of stopping research that increases fossil fuel production during the unfolding climate emergency. The groups say that the University's links to Schlumberger are giving the oil company an easy way for its activities to appear socially acceptable by associating itself with the University's prestige and reputation for academic excellence.
The activists say that one way this is taking effect is through launching initiatives such as the new Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) to combat the climate emergency while still hosting, accepting money from, and working with oil and gas companies to produce the very thing causing the emergency - fossil fuels. They say that neither the University's nor the fossil fuel companies' net-zero campaigns can be taken seriously while they work on new fossil fuel extraction and research to fuel their capitalist business models. To highlight this, the activists also changed the sign saying "This is not an ordinary project, but it needs to be" on the CISL building to say "This is not an anticapitalist project, but it needs to be".
When asked why it is so urgent to stop oil and gas research, Extinction Rebellion Cambridge pointed to multiple statements from the International Energy Agency, which recently stated that all countries must immediately stop investment in new oil and gas if the world is to reach net zero emissions by 2050 . The activists said that, due to its international influence on science and technology, it's critical that the University of Cambridge starts living up to its promises on achieving net zero emissions.
In addition to removing the oil company from Cambridge, the campaign calls for Schlumberger to be barred from student recruitment events; the company to lose its sponsorship of academic posts at the University; the Schlumberger building to be turned into a climate emergency research centre; the company to cease its operations; and the company to commit to reparations for the harm it has caused over its many years of fossil fuel extraction. The full set of demands and open letter can be found here.
XR Cambridge will be running an outreach event about Schlumberger where anyone interested can come and learn more about Schlumberger. The event will start at 2PM on Saturday 15th January in Christ's Pieces before moving through town to Senate House.