Universities divest from fossil fuels

Signal of change / Universities divest from fossil fuels

By Anna Simpson / 20 Jan 2015

In May 2014, Stanford University announced it will not make direct investments in publicly traded companies whose principal business is coal mining for energy generation, following advice from an Advisory Panel which represents students, faculty, staff and alumni. The University of Glasgow followed suit in October, becoming the first in Europe to commit to fully divesting from fossil fuel industry companies, subject to further monitoring of the financial impact by its governing body. Full divestment will mean the reallocation of around £18 million of current investments over a 10 year period. David Newall, Secretary of the University of Glasgow Court, said: “The University recognises the devastating impact that climate change may have on our planet, and the need for the world to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Over the coming years we will steadily reduce our investment in the fossil fuel extraction industry, while also taking steps to reduce our carbon consumption."

Photo credits: Ben Schumin /Flickr

So what?

The financial impact of such commitments may be minimal for the extraction industry, though amplified by falling oil prices. However, rising awareness of the social and environmental impacts of some investment funds could see the drive to maximise returns to shareholders pitted more frequently against ethical concerns. 


The Guardian (October 8, 2014). Glasgow becomes first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuels.

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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