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Oct 30

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30/10/2013 14:12  RssIcon

Universities challenged to change fossil fuel investments

A new campaign has launched to end university investment in fossil fuels.

The Fossil Free UK campaign has teamed up with People & Planet and Operation Noah to focus on the reported £5bn invested in coal, oil and gas by the endowment funds of UK universities.

The campaign is focused on encouraging universities, pension funds, and major banks to divest their holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel using companies, with the grand aim of ‘bankrupting the fossil fuel industry’.

Fossil Free UK celebrated its first victory last week when the University of Surrey shifted funds from two unnamed fossil fuel companies into a renewable-energy-focused company.

A new report by Platform, People & Planet and recently exposed the extent to which the fossil fuel industry is financially interconnected with UK universities. The report, Knowledge and Power – Fossil Fuel Universities revealed that:

Universities have an estimated £5.2 billion invested in the fossil fuel industry, equivalent to £2,083 for every student in the UK.

Senior executives from BP and Shell have received 20 awards and honorary degrees from UK universities in the last decade alone.

Of the 250 papers published by the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, only three are on renewables, with the Institute receiving more than half of its grants from oil and gas companies.

In 2013 Imperial College London has more research funding from fossil fuel companies than any other UK institution. It received £17.3 million from Shell and BP alone.

The biggest investors are Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh Universities who have all been criticised for partnering with fossil fuel giants such as BP and Shell.

The University of Oxford recently produced a report which stated “the fossil fuel divestment movement is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign" and that the outcome of the stigmatisation process, which the fossil fuel divestment campaign has now triggered, "poses the most far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies and the vast energy value chain.”

Campaigners are calling on all Universities to:

1. Move their money

  • screen for and exclude the fossil fuel industry from their investment portfolio
  • immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies
  • divest from the fossil fuel industry and shift funds to lower risk ethical investments within 5 years

2. Stop the greenwash

  • publish financial accounts and all other ties to the fossil fuel industry
  • stop giving out honorary degrees to fossil fuel industry CEOs
  • stop accepting sponsorship and advertising from fossil fuel companies

3. Support a clean energy future for all

  • provide students with ethical careers advice and opportunities
  • refocus research and expertise on climate solutions and phase out climate-damaging fossil fuel research
  • demand more research funding for renewables from fossil fuel companies and government

The campaign is part of a European wide campaign Fossil Free Europe Tour which will visit the UK from the 30th October- 1st November.

Kumi Niadoo from Greenpeace commented: “The Fossil Free Europe Tour is a bold initiative, catalysing a movement around divestment from fossil fuels and we are already starting to see results – the movement is getting bigger and stronger,”

To join the campaign for fossil disinvestment visit the campaign website.

The dates and location of the tour can be found on the tour's website.







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