The divest fossil fuel movement in the higher education sector has continued to gain traction in recent weeks with commitments from universities to omit fossil fuels from portfolios or review investments in this area, and student and staff movements calling for divestment.
Just this week, the UK’s University of Bedfordshire became the second higher education institution in the country to commit to not investing in the fossil fuel industry.
Bill Rammell, vice-chancellor at Bedfordshire, said it was “acutely aware of our duty to invest our money in ways which match our values and prioritises the future of our students”.
Rammell is a Labour politician who was Minister of State for Higher Education from 2005-2008.
It follows the University of Glasgow, which announced last year that it would divest £18m (€23.5) from fossil fuel companies and the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) which plans to freeze new investments in fossil fuel firms.
Bedfordshire University’s new ethical investment strategy prevents it from investing in the fossil fuel sector, formally confirming its long-standing policy on the issue.Across the pond in the US, the University of Oregon senate, which includes faculty, students and officers, has voted unanimously to request that the university divest its endowment fund holdings in fossil fuels.
And this month professors at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada will vote on whether to ask the institution to divest its $1.3bn (€1.1bn) endowment of coal, oil or gas. It follows a student vote where 77% said they wanted the university to divest from fossil fuels.
The endowment is the second biggest in Canada after the University of Toronto’s $1.5bn portfolio. But, according to a report released by the Sustainable and Education Policy Network, its fossil fuel investments are more than double those of any other Canadian university.
As already reported, the University of Hawaii’s Board of Regents committee has approved the formation of a task group to evaluate and recommend how the university can divest all its interests in fossil fuel companies, or those with the greatest carbon reserves.
Most student-led groups calling for fossil fuel divestment around the world are allied with 350.org, a global environmental lobby group. It is behind this year’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Day on February 13 and 14.