University of Liverpool to divest entirely from fossil fuels
The University of Liverpool has become the latest higher education facility in the UK to commit to removing fossil fuel investments from its portfolio, following pressure from students and staff.
The pledge will see the University sell its remaining holdings in fossil fuel companies by 2022. These holdings are estimated to total around £2.8m, or 1.2% of the University’s total investment portfolio.
The move from the University’s management follows extensive protests by students, largely under the Guild of Students’ Fossil Free campaign.
Launched in February, the campaign had garnered the support of more than 1,200 individual students, more than 30 societies and clubs, and the University and College Union (UCU). Actions taken under the campaign included petitioning, film screening and hosting a “day of action”, complete with on-campus demonstrations.
Fossil Free’s deputy president Hannah Nguyen said that the University’s 2022 commitment was a “huge win” for the campaign.
“Fossil fuel companies have repeatedly abused the human rights of communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction and led us into the climate crisis we are facing,” she said.
“Full divestment is a huge win for the Fossil Free movement and it’s all down to student activists at Liverpool who have campaigned tirelessly.”
The University of Liverpool’s director of finance Nicola Davies added: “The case to reduce our investments in companies that derive significant revenues from fossil fuel extraction and production has increased with greater awareness of the impact of climate change.”
Moves to divest from fossil fuels have become increasingly common in the education space in recent years, amid increased climate pressure from investors, policymakers and the general public.
Earlier this year, the management team at the University of Cambridge accepted a motion, known as a grace, requiring them to “set out fully the advantages and disadvantages, including the social and political ones”, of divestment from global coal, oil and gas companies.
More recently, Goldsmiths, University of London, has pledged to divest its endowment fund entirely from companies which generate more than 10% of their revenue from fossil fuels by 1 December 2019. This decision was taken by the facility’s new warden Professor Frances Corner, who has also banned beef from campus food outlets and introduced a 10p levy on plastic water bottles.
Nonetheless, the UK’s higher education sector is still estimated to hold £1,804 in oil and gas stocks for every student in the system – of which there are estimated to be 2.25 million.