Bristol University announces plans to divest funds from companies with the highest carbon footprint

A step in the right direction

Yesterday, UoB announced that it would be divesting plans from the most carbon intense sectors of the energy industry due to their continued detrimental environmental impact.

The Fossil Free Society, which was formed in 2014 by Rachael Simon – a former student at UoB- has been campaigning for these changes since they formed three years ago.

The policy has been praised by the society as ‘one of the clearest and most wide-ranging in Britain’. And it seems that the University is putting its money where its mouth is…literally: they have already moved £3 million of its endowment to be invested in more environmentally friendly companies.

This is only five percent of the overall endowment, but it is a start when it comes to reducing UoB’s environmental impact.

A previous Bristol Fossil Free stunt

According to the University’s website, ‘a key aim is to end investment in companies that derive more than five per cent of turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or oil and gas from tar sands by January 2018,’ and that this ‘new endowment policy supports the University’s strong commitment to sustainability and fighting climate change’.

Representatives from the SU are set to be involved in the process of tender, as well as reviewing the progress of the policy.

According to Professor Guy Orpan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UoB, “we are proud to be a sector-leader in sustainability- from the research we support, the curriculum we teach and the student experience we offer, to the way we behave as an organisation. Our new investment policy has been developed to be consistent with our sustainability aims’

Nick Wood, Head of Research of the Fossil Free Society echoed these sentiments, although he did add that this does ultimately depend on the University: “our agreed plan of divestment with the University is one of the clearest and most wide ranging in Britain, so we’re very pleased.”

“The target on coal and tar sands is very strict, clearly defined and time limited- the gold standard for divestment targets. How far the University divests from fossil fuels will depend on how this policy is implemented”

The aim is for the institution to be carbon neutral by 2030, and to set an example for other universities in terms of environmental impact.