January 20, 2015

University of Bedfordshire commits to not invest in the fossil fuel industry

Bedfordshire, UK — The University of Bedfordshire has become the second university in the UK to commit to not invest in the fossil fuel industry. Its new ethical investment policy, which has been signed off by senior management, bans the fossil fuel sector from the university’s investments.

Bill Rammell, Vice Chancellor at the University of Bedfordshire, says: “We are acutely aware of our duty to invest our money in ways which match our values and prioritises the future of our students. We do this by promoting justice, integrity and sustainable growth. As part of that commitment we ensure that all investment decisions are made responsibly and take seriously the threat of climate change. Therefore we took the decision not to invest in specific sectors such as fossil fuels and this is written into our ethical strategy.”

The policy was announced as the student campaign group People & Planet released University League 2015, a guide that ranks UK universities based on their environmental and social impact. [1] The University of Bedfordshire has taken massive strides over the last five years in its environmental and ethical performance, this year coming 14th out of 151 institutions, scoring a 1st class degree in People & Planet’s rankings. This compares to 2010 when they came 124th, scoring a fail.

In the past eighteen months the People & Planet student network has launched over 50 Fossil Free campaigns across the UK involving over 25,000 students, staff and alumni. They are calling on UK universities to divest their £5.2bn worth of investments in the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies, as well as ditch their research and career ties. [2] The University of Glasgow became the first university in Europe to divest its £19 million from the fossil fuel industry in October 2014 [3], which followed University of London SOAS’ decision to become the first UK university to freeze new investments in the fossil fuel industry [4].

In just under a month, on 13-14 February, Fossil Free campaigns around the globe will hold Global Divestment Day, a worldwide day of action to urge public institutions – such as universities, local authorities, pension funds and religious institutions – to stop funding an industry whose business model is incompatible with a livable planet.

New research by University College London (UCL) reaffirms that over 80% of coal, 50% of gas and 30% of oil reserves are ‘unburnable’ under the goal to limit global warming to no more than 2 ℃. [5] Still, UCL has refused to divest its own money from companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, despite a growing student campaign, which has gathered over 1300 signatures from UCL students, staff and alumni urging the institution to divest.

Oxford University and its colleges, with investments of £3.8 billion, have the largest endowment wealth of any higher education institution in the UK. The university is currently conducting a staff-only consultation on divestment, after almost 2,000 Oxford students and academics joined a campaign calling for divestment from the fossil fuel industry. The University of Oxford ranked 115th in this year’s league table.

Ellen Gibson, University of Oxford third year History student and Fossil Free University of Oxford member, comments, “It’s a shame to see Oxford falling behind its world-leading reputation when it comes to sustainability. I hope that the university sees this announcement as a wake up call and continues on the path towards divestment and meaningful action on climate change.”

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Notes to editor

[1] The People & Planet University League scores universities against questions covering 13 topics; including carbon reduction, student and staff engagement, sustainable food, workers rights, education for sustainability and ethical investment. The full league table and more information on how the People & Planet University League is constructed can be found at http://peopleandplanet.org/university-league

[2] UK universities currently invest £5.2bn in the fossil fuel industry. More information can be found in People & Planet’s Knowledge and Power report.

[3] Press release: University of Glasgow first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuels (8 October 2014)

[4] Press release: Press release: SOAS Calls Halt to Fossil Fuel Investments with a View to Divesting this Autumn (29 July 2014)

[5] For more information on UCL’s research: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30709211

 

Press contact:

James Farndon, People & Planet, [email protected]org, +44 (0)1865 264 180

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