Within a fortnight of publicly declaring that it would not completely divest from fossil fuel investments, Scotland’s University of Edinburgh has announced that it intends to divest from three of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers.
Earlier this month, the University of Edinburgh released the results of the Fossil Fuels Review Group, which aimed to “consider the case for divestment of University assets from fossil fuel companies.” The primary finding made by the University in line with the Review Group’s finding read:
In line with those recommendations, the University believes that we should seek means through our investments to support the transition from a high carbon to a low carbon society, as long as actions taken are consistent with other University objectives and values.
More importantly, the University of Edinburgh made it clear that it did “not see choices as limited to ‘no change’ or ‘pull out of all investments’,” — a point of view criticized by proponents of fossil fuel divestment, including student lobbyists, who declared the University had “ignored calls from students, staff, and alumni to divest from fossil fuel companies,” as well as accusing the University of having a “conflict of interests.”
However, in the first meeting of the University’s Investment Committee since earlier this month when it announced its original intentions, the Committee has decided to withdraw University funds from “three of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers,” and intends to write to these companies “to inform them that [the University] intends to fully divest from their activities within the next six months.”
“This decision underlines the recent commitment made by the University to address the challenge of climate change though its responsible investment policy,” said Professor Charlie Jeffery, the University’s Senior Vice-Principal. “We will act quickly to reduce harmful emissions through divestment, reinforcing the work we do to act on climate change through research and teaching.”
The news will be welcome to proponents of complete fossil fuel divestment, who inherently desire 100% divestment.
“We are glad to see the university finally accept that there are lower carbon alternatives to coal and tar sands, but it should have never taken this long,” said Kirsty Haigh, student campaigner with Edinburgh People and Planet and NUS Scotland VP Communities.
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