13/07/2022: New climate protest group breaks windows at University of Cambridge fossil fuel buildings

A climate activist smashes the glass door at the BP Institute, University of Cambridge.
A climate activist breaks the glass entrance of the BP Institute at the University of Cambridge.
Black paint has been thrown over the main entrance of Aveva's global headquarters in Cambridge. Aveva is a software company that enables oil and gas extraction worldwide.
Black paint was thrown over the main entrance of Aveva’s global headquarters on University of Cambridge land. The company enables oil and gas extraction globally.
The windows at CASP, an oil and gas research centre on University of Cambridge land and funded by 11 oil companies, have been boarded up after climate activists broke them.
The windows at CASP, an oil and gas research centre on University of Cambridge land which is funded by 11 oil companies, have been boarded up after climate activists broke them.

HIT REPORT. Last night and over the past week, a new climate protest group, This Is Not A Drill, has broken glass windows and doors and thrown black paint at three University of Cambridge fossil fuel research buildings. The group broke over 10 windows at CASP (Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme), which is funded by 11 fossil fuel companies [1], then threw black paint over Aveva’s front entrance, a software company which “enables 19 of the top 20 petroleum companies, over 300 refineries, most of the world’s petrochemical crackers, and 900K miles of [oil and gas] pipeline” [2] and is sited next to the oil company Schlumberger, and, last night, broke the glass entrance to the BP Institute, where oil extraction research is carried out. They also spray-painted messages on the buildings including “STOP AUTOMATING OIL + GAS” and “CAM UNI: DROP BP”.

The group’s actions come as the UK braces for a record heat wave, possibly reaching 40°C for the first time ever. This would be so severe that “illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy”. The last all-time UK heat record was set at 38.7°C in Cambridge in 2019 [3]. These trends match record-breaking heat seen in the last few days in the US, Europe, and China, once again demonstrating that heatwaves are increasing in their peak temperature and frequency as climate change is made worse by the extraction of fossil fuels.

These protests are the group’s first, but probably won’t be their last. Their website states that “fossil fuel companies won’t be tolerated” alongside a recent famous quote from António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN: “Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.” [4]

When asked why they decided to go beyond the now familiar tactics of road blocking and general disruption, a spokesperson said: “Fossil fuel companies are killing us. It’s upsetting and extremely worrying that Cambridge is full of them, especially the concentration aided and abetted by the University of Cambridge. They work hand in glove with these companies while they pretend to be following the climate science and taking action. They host Schlumberger, the world’s biggest offshore oil drilling company; Aveva, a software company automating the entire oil and gas industry; they have a BP Institute that still runs research into new fossil fuel extraction; and they have, hidden away and no longer showing up on their website or University map, CASP – a research facility funded by 11 global oil companies whose purpose is to locate new fossil fuel deposits for them so they can make even more money.”

“Why have we tolerated these partnerships for so long? It is not hyperbole to call these companies murderers. Across the Global South, people have been dying for decades at the hands of oil and gas companies. If they have no problem killing people, we can legitimately dismantle and sabotage their research centres and prestigious university partnerships. It’s time for citizen-led fossil fuel non-proliferation. We hope the phenomenon spreads and fossil fuel companies suddenly find they have few places left to operate and fewer friends to help them. Please know that we’ve been pushed to this point by inaction – the failure of governments and companies to make change following protests from groups like Extinction Rebellion shows that we have to take matters into our own hands.”

One of the main reasons the group cites for focusing on the University of Cambridge is its misuse of its prestige and global reputation via its green image. For example, the University has set science-based climate targets [5], committed to fossil fuel divestment, and has significant climate science output, but still works with a multitude of fossil fuel companies. The group says that if oil companies like Schlumberger, Shell, and BP have very public relationships with the University, it begs the questions: how can these companies be so bad if the supposedly green University of Cambridge is working with them? Are these companies actually part of the solution? The hard data tells another story. While billions of pounds of their marketing budgets goes into colourful pictures of wind turbines and solar panels [6], they still spend 96% of their total capital expenditure on oil and gas extraction as of 2021 [7]. As the UN Secretary-General, the IEA (International Energy Agency), and the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) have said repeatedly – the world cannot afford to finance any more fossil fuel projects [8]. 


  1. https://www.varsity.co.uk/news/18158
  2. https://www.aveva.com/en/industries/oil-gas/
  3. https://news.sky.com/story/what-is-a-national-heatwave-emergency-and-what-could-it-mean-for-the-uk-this-week-12650436
  4. https://twitter.com/antonioguterres/status/1511294073474367488
  5. https://www.environment.admin.cam.ac.uk/science-based-targets
  6. https://grist.org/energy/big-oil-spent-3-6-billion-on-climate-ads-and-its-working/
  7. https://www.upstreamonline.com/energy-transition/clean-energy-spending-way-below-net-zero-goal-despite-signs-of-big-oil-shift-iea-warns/2-1-1019154
  8. https://phys.org/news/2021-05-fossil-fuel-net-zero-iea.htmlhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/04/its-over-for-fossil-fuels-ipcc-spells-out-whats-needed-to-avert-climate-disaster

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