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Oxford University Divestment Campaign Heats Up, Harvard Is Silent

The global push towards fossil fuel divestment continues, especially on university campuses, with the University of Oxford set to rule on whether to divest from fossil fuel investments.

7822195498_118a01facd_zWith an endowment worth approximately £3.8 billion, the University of Oxford is the second richest university in the UK (after the University of Cambridge). The university has a number of fossil fuel-related investments, and according to Business Green, divestment could “be controversial among some of the university’d donors who are also heavily invested in fossil fuels.” However, according to Business Green, donors such as Solarcentury founder Jeremy Leggett and the founder of Avaaz, Ricken Patel, have both threatened to suspend their own contributions if Oxford does not divest from their own fossil fuel investments.

The campaign has been spearheaded by the Oxford University Fossil Free campaign, which states that “any investment in fossil fuel companies is currently not socially responsible.” And because ethical investment is not always the motivator it could be, the campaign makes its case stronger by reminding the University that “fossil fuel assets are overvalued, potentially threatening part of University’s investment portfolio with devaluation.”

The Oxford University Fossil Free campaign therefore provides three recommendations:

  • A negative screening process (or divestment) should be applied to fossil fuel investments
  • A positive screening process (investment) should be applied to “fossil free” investments
  • A list of University investments should be published in the interests of transparency and student engagement

Last week, Oxford University Fossil Free held a “TEACH-IN: 5 DAYS TO DIVEST” in the lead up to today’s (March 16) decision.

However, another big-name university across the Pond, Harvard University, hasn’t seen any progress on their divestment campaign since we last touched base with them towards the end of February, when Harvard alumni signed a letter calling for the University to divest from fossil fuels.

Harvard University had filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Harvard Climate Justice Coalition — a group of Harvard students — and was set to make its case on February 20. However, according to the Coalition’s website and Twitter account, there has been no update to the court case or the University’s intention (or lack thereof) to divest.

Image Credit: The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford at night by chensiyuan via Duncan Hull, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.


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