‘Over a quarter’ of UK universities divest from fossil fuels

Sixteen more universities commit to divestment, according to People & Planet

November 22, 2016
Oil rig

The number of UK higher education institutions vowing to exclude fossil fuel from investments has grown to 43, according to research conducted by student campaign network People & Planet.

It found that 16 UK universities have recently committed to divestment, joining 27 others. The University of Glasgow became the first university in Europe to divest in 2014, following months of campaigning by the Glasgow University Climate Action Society. The university froze new investments and began to divest £18 million from the fossil fuel industry.

Now, more than a quarter of UK universities are committed to divestment, according to People & Planet, making the UK “the world leader” in fossil fuel divestment at higher education institutions, the group said.

Fewer than 100 universities worldwide – including 35 in the US – have decided to cut their ties with fossil fuel companies. 

“I think that strong student and staff support for fossil fuel divestment is key,” said Andrew Taylor, co-director, campaigns and communications, at People & Planet. “Universities have accepted that if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.”

The number of UK universities breaking away from the fossil fuel industry has grown quickly, and decisions are expected in the following months at Durham University, the University of Essex, the University of Manchester and the University of Reading.

There are concerns, however, that there are insufficient alternative options for investment in the short term, and that the government will not help to encourage further divestment at UK universities.

“Policy-wise, it’s hard to see the current government taking steps to support divestment. More likely they will look for ways to undermine the movement,” Mr Taylor said. “In the case of higher education, the Browne review [of fees in 2010] led to greater dependence on research funding ties to partnerships with companies like BP and Shell.

“I think the continuing driver for divestment will be students and staff organising on campuses across the UK and beyond.”

hilary.lamb@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show