Daily ESG Briefing: Cambridge University to divest fossil fuels in move to Net Zero

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Cambridge University has announced it will divest fossil fuels and be net zero by 2038 after a five-year battle by student campaigners. The £3.5bn Cambridge University Endowment Fund plans to withdraw from “conventional energy-focused” public equity investments by December and be fully divested from fossil fuels by 2030. It has pledged to have significant renewable energy exposure by 2025 and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its entire portfolio by 2038. Cambridge’s University Council attributed the decision to a “bold” report by Dr Ellen Quigley, Emily Bugden and the University’s Chief Financial Office Anthony Odgers, which explored divestment across moral, social, political, reputational and financial dimensions.

Climate change is no longer perceived as the top emerging risk in Asia and America, although it remains so in Europe, according to a survey of risk management experts and the general public by AXA. In its seventh ‘Future Risks Report’, the insurance firm ranked the 10 major emerging risks marked by the health crisis; with pandemics and infectious diseases moving from 8th to 1st place since last year. In a post on Linkedin, Thomas Buberl, CEO of AXA Group, stressed climate change should not be overshadowed by the current crisis. 

The Climate Bonds Initiative, in partnership with FSD Africa, has launched a ‘toolkit’ to provide African countries and capital markets with guidance on how to issue green bonds that are in line with international best practices and standards.  

BP, Shell, and Equinor have held several meetings with government officials offering money in return for exposure at next year’s climate negotiations, according to a report by The Guardian. In one case, it is alleged they offered to act as an intermediary between UK officials and other governments in the run up to COP26. In August, the Government, which is hosting the negotiations in collaboration with Italy, said that sponsors must “have set ambitious net zero commitments by 2050 or earlier, with a credible short-term action plan to achieve this.”

Law firm Ashurst has launched a new digital tool to help businesses understand and comply with the new EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulations. ESG Ready is a legal advice product that classifies organisations under the new regulation and seeks to enable transparent monitoring and compliance.