Tortoise Media’s sponsors include BP, who People and Planet called “a global leader in fossil fuel production.” This comes following Newcastle University’s commitment to full divestment from fossil fuels, which was announced in November 2019.
The event, known as a ThinkIn, is titled ‘Whose job is to fight climate change- activists, voters or the people they elect?’, with Tortoise media being a journalistic organisation. Special guests will include Julian Robinson, an Extinction Rebellion Activist; Jo Alexander, a Charted Geologist and Purpose Engagement Manger for BP; and Alex Lockwood, professor of Journalism at the University of Sunderland, and author of The Pig in Thin Air, which is about the relationship between animal agriculture and climate change.
People and Planet Newcastle began a change.org petition on the 5th March, which at the moment of publication, had 100 signatures.
In the petition, People and Planet wrote: “Instead of providing space for debate around meaningful action to tackle climate breakdown, Newcastle University has allowed BP a platform to appropriate climate justice discourse and greenwash its own ecocidal practices which are a fundamental driver of the crisis.”
“We call on Newcastle University to cancel this event immediately, and decline to offer fossil fuel companies any more platforms on campus, in line with its declaration of a climate emergency and full divestment from fossil fuel companies.”
Only a day after the petition was posted, the University decided to cancel hosting the event, with People and Planet Newcastle thanking the NUSU President for her involvement.
Katie Smyth, NUSU President, tweeted: “NUSU proudly divested from fossil fuels in July 2019 and tirelessly support climate action. Therefore, we will no longer be hosting Tortoise Media, supported by BP, as this doesn’t fit alongside our ethical investment morals. Continued thanks to @nclpeopleplanet for their work!”. This was since retweeted by the official Newcastle University Twitter account.
Newcastle is labelled a 'First-Class University' according to People & Planet’s sustainability ranking, where it currently places 12th out of 154 Universities. People & Planet describe themselves as "the largest student campaigning organization in the country campaigning to alleviate world poverty, defend human rights and protect the environment."