This blog first appeared on People & Planet’s website -People & Planet is the student network leading the Fossil Free UK divestment movement in British universities.
Photo of Lord Browne with BP logo background

Today (27 November), the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics(LSE) will host Lord Browne for a talk entitled “A Fractured Future: climate change in an age of fossil fuel abundance”.

The invitation to Lord Browne has raised the hackles of many students and academics at LSE and beyond, given his prominent role and financial interests in the continued extraction of fossil fuels. As well as being former Chief Executive of BP, he is the Chairman of Cuadrilla – the company responsible for the UK’s current fracking projects, and managing partner in Riverside Holdings which finances UK fracking operations.

Student campaigners have pointed out that the Grantham Research Institute chose to leave off these relevant aspects of Lord Browne’s CV and bill him as a pro-climate maverick in the oil world. Despite a very brief flirt with green energy under his watch over a decade ago, students from LSE Divest – a group calling for LSE to divest its endowment from fossil fuels – describe BP’s efforts to re-brand as ‘Beyond Petroleum’ as:

“nothing more than a short lived and cynical marketing exercise – the only scrap of which remains is the now somewhat ironic ‘greener’ flower logo.”

The invitation is all the more surprising since the Grantham Research Institute is home to excellent independent research on climate change and fossil fuels. In fact, the Institute co-authored the Unburnable Carbon 2013 report that makes the clearest scientific and financial case to date for leaving 80% of fossil fuels in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. The report has spurred on the rapidly growing UK divestment movement and highlighted to investors worldwide the risks of fossil fuel companies being left with “stranded assets” – vastly overvalued reserves of oil, coal and gas that cannot be burned due to global climate legislation to keep global warming under 2C.

“Considering Lord Browne’s business interests, his influence in Whitehall, the Cabinet and policy making, the conflicts of interest he exudes are dangerous and surprisingly unquestioned. Although Lord Browne was one of the first big oil executives to acknowledge the threat of global warming, his concern does not extend to the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels. Rather, he is concerned with continuing our dependence on this unsustainable energy resource in order to protect his industry; one that greatly contributes to the destruction of the planet. There are significant environmental reasons why fracking, and CSS are not the answer to climate change but sadly there is no platform for these arguments to be advanced. That’s why the LSE Divest team will be there informing people about the alternative view and we hear there may be other activists from around the capital hoping to do the same.”  LSE Divest

Take Action

  • Anyone wanting to know more and get up to date on the real solutions to climate change can visit LSE Divest on Facebook or follow @LSEDivest on Twitter.
  • To call on LSE to listen to its own researchers and divest from fossil fuel companies, sign the LSE petition
  • If you’d like to comment on the LSE’s decision to invite Lord Browne to deliver a climate lecture – you can join the debate on Twitter at 6.30pm (GMT) this evening using the hashtag #LSEclimate.