Divestment success: Warwick Uni ends fossil fuel investments

Warwick University has today (8 July) announced it will divest from fossil fuels, making it the latest university to bow to student and academic pressure to end investments in coal and oil.

The University Council, meeting at the Shard in London, voted to replace existing fossil fuel investment in fossil-free index related funds. The Council pledged to move the funds within three years.

The decision followed pressure by students, who submitted a paper entitled ‘The Case for Fossil Fuel Disinvestment’ at the university’s investment sub-committee.

University Council chair Sir George Cox said: “Warwick’s students are global citizens who seek to challenge all of us to consider and reflect on how we as a community can have an impact on this issue both together and as individuals.

“Throughout the discussions leading up to today our students have presented clear arguments that they wanted Council to hear and take seriously and as they can be assured by the outcome of our meeting today that Council has done so.”

The University currently holds around £1m of endowments in oil, gas and coal companies.

Student victory

Campaigners, led by the People and Planet offshoot Fossil Free Warwick University, celebrated the universities decision to follow the example of other major academic institutions.

Dan Goss, student campaigner for Fossil Free Warwick University, said: “This decision testifies to two long years of campaigning by Fossil Free Warwick. We’re overjoyed by this victory – but it’s just the beginning. Divestment is the spring board for a united front against the fossil fuel industry globally and on campuses.”

The group represented a local offshoot of national divestment campaign group People and Planet. People and Planet fossil free campaigners manager Andrew Taylor said: “Warwick’s decision is another clear signal that any university that doesn’t divest is going against the tide. Any institution with a moral compass should be turning their backs on the fossil fuel industry now.”

Warwick student union president Cat Turhan said: “There is no question that this is a complete win for the Fossil Free Warwick campaign, and that it commits the University to full divestment in the near future.”

Manchester decides

The divestment spotlight now falls on Manchester. Yesterday, 96 University of Manchester staff signed a letter urging the University to also divest its £9.5m in shares from six of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies.

The letter said: “We believe this is a tremendous opportunity for the University of Manchester to demonstrate decisive and forward-thinking leadership on one of the most pressing global issues of our time.”

A decision on Manchester’s divestment was deferred to be considered over the coming months.

Today’s announcement from Warwick follows divestment announcements at the University of Glasgow and SOAS.

Several other universities announced plans to change investment portfolios. The University of Oxford ruled to end investments in coal and tar sands with Edinburgh University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also ending major fossil fuel investments.

Matt Field

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