Manchester Uni finally agrees to fully divest from fossil fuels

It will end investments in fossil fuel reserve and extraction companies by 2022 and ‘decarbonise’ all investments by 2038

The University of Manchester announced today that it plans to decarbonise its investment portfolio.

The changes to the University’s Socially Responsible Investment Policy include a commitment to reduce the carbon intensity of the overall investment portfolio by 30 per cent by 2022, and then to move as quickly as possible to net zero by, at latest, 2038.

Vice-President for Social Responsibility, Professor Nalin Thakkar said: “Since most CO2 emissions do not arise from the direct activity of fossil fuel companies, but through the use of fossil fuels by others, we will also take the more ambitious step to shift our investments to carbon efficient companies.”

The University has stated that it “will redirect its share investments from carbon-intensive companies to companies that are more carbon efficient (emit less carbon for their level of activity) and so encouraging the transition to a low carbon economy.”

The changes to the policy have been agreed after a wide consultation with staff, students and alumni earlier in the year which attracted nearly 600 responses.

The Policy itself was developed in consultation with the University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the Students’ Union.

According to Vice-President for Social Responsibility, Professor Nalin Thakkar, companies that hold fossil fuel reserves or are involved in extraction “account for only three-five per cent of our total investments.”

Professor Thakkar also said: “We know these issues are important to our staff, students and alumni, and bringing benefit to society and the environment is at the heart of our University’s purpose. Although these are difficult times, through our research and teaching, and the ways in which we invest for our future, we can play a crucial role in an environmentally sustainable recovery from the pandemic.”

People and Planet UoM told The Manchester Tab: “We are incredibly happy the university have finally listened to their students and committed to full divestment by 2022.

“This campaign has seen generations of students fight for divestment for over eight years and we’re glad it’s now found success.

“There’s still a lot to be done to properly achieve climate justice at UoM but this was a huge step forwards so we’re definitely on the right track!”

The University of Manchester is the top ranked UK university in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings. Overall, it is ranked second in Europe and eighth globally for its social and environmental impact across its full range of functions, as measured against the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester said: “I am delighted that after lengthy consultation and discussions, we can now launch our ambitious new investment policy and I am very grateful to all who have worked so hard on this.”

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