The University of Surrey has announced that it plans to divest its current fossil fuel investments, becoming the first UK university in the new academic year to do so.
The University of Surrey Finance Board made the announcement this week, voting to sell its current fossil investments, following two years of campaigning by student campaigners from the Surrey University People & Planet Society. The University will sell off its £33,000 investment in BHP Billiton, the last part of over £200,000 that was previously invested in fossil fuels as part of its £42 million endowment.
“This is huge,” said Peter Sims, of Surrey University People & Planet Society. “Having campaigned on this issue for so long I am delighted that the university has decided to lead the way by becoming the first university this academic year to divest from fossil fuels. I now urge the university to amend its Ethical Investment Policy and make a public statement supporting the campaign.”
The divestment movement has become one of the hottest topics not only in financial circles, but in the directly related environmental circles. This week already saw the City of Oslo in Norway commit to full fossil fuel divestment form its pension fund, one of a number of cities joining dozens of institutions the world over committing to fossil fuel divestment.
Go Fossil Free’s database of divestment announcements currently sits at 452 institutions worldwide making such commitments, totaling $2.6 trillion worth of fossil fuel investments given up.
The University of Surrey is now the eighth UK university to divest from fossil fuels, and campaigners are expecting this will only be the first of many for this academic year, with over 60 student campaigns currently calling for divestment before the UN climate summit in Paris next month.
“With the climate talks in Paris around the corner, we expect Surrey’s decision to be the first of many,” explained Juliette Daigre, Campaigns Manager at People & Planet. “Both the London School of Economics and Sheffield University are expected to make announcements soon and senior management at many others universities are discussing divestment. We urge them to follow Surrey’s lead in showing our leaders that the fossil fuel industry isn’t welcome at the top table by divesting before Paris.”
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