STUDENTS and climate activists have occupied St John's College in opposition of its investment in fossil fuels.

Dozens of people started protesting at the Oxford University college yesterday, and remain there today with huge banners, placards and even a model of the RRS Sir David Attenborough boat.

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Students camped in tents on the college's front quad last night, and have been joined by more people today including members of Oxford's Extinction Rebellion (XR) group. 

Oxford Mail:

Picture: Richard Lewis

They have been projecting imagery on the college buildings and believe as the wealthiest college in the city, St John's should be championing the climate emergency.

It comes after Balliol College announced earlier this week that it will ' divest all holdings in fossil fuel companies as far and as fast as is practicable', following pressure.

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Wadham and St Hilda’s have already made similar commitments. 

Student Fergus Green, who is among those leading the movement, said: "We’re seeing real momentum build here in Oxford, with college after college cutting ties with the exploitative fossil fuel industry.

"The student body is angry at years of obfuscation and delay on climate action and Oxford cannot ignore this pressure any longer.

"St John’s College is the wealthiest college of all and a leader in its research fields, so has a responsibility to set an example for other Oxford colleges, pension and sovereign wealth funds. But instead, it lags far behind the field."

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Michael Beattie, spokesperson for Balliol Divestment Campaign, added: "We’re thrilled that Balliol has decided to align itself with a just and sustainable future, and has realised that such a future is incompatible with the continued burning of fossil fuels.

"This decision is a significant financial move, a powerful message of solidarity with front-line communities and a recognition that continuing to profit from the climate crisis is morally unacceptable."

Pressure is being piled on by a group of activists, working under the collective name Direct Action for Divestment Oxford.

Oxford Mail:

Picture: XR Oxford

According to students, St John's has deactivated participating students' key fobs, meaning they are unable to access any other part of the college's estate.

Allan Allport, an emeritus professor of psychology at Oxford University and member of XR Oxford, has backed their cause.

The 82-year-old said: "These brave students have their hearts and minds in the right place. St John’s College, please listen to them!"

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In a statement shared with the Cherwell student newspaper, a St John's spokesperson said: "St John’s College keeps all investments and investment policies under regular review.

"Its main portfolio adviser assesses all companies with regard to their ethical, social and governance stance and updates its advice to the college on a regular basis.

"The college is currently engaged in a wide-ranging review of its investment policies, which will report to governing body in due course."

Anna Olerinyova, a PhD student in chemistry at St. John’s, said: "The message from scientists is clear - to stop run-away climate change, we must leave fossil fuels in the ground. 

"Our message to St John’s is equally clear: stop funding the destruction of our livelihoods, lands and futures, and drop these dirty investments now."

A samba band is due to arrive at 6pm tonight as the sit-in continues, and the protest is expected to last until tomorrow at least, or until a pledge is made by the college to address their concerns.