But UK’s second biggest university by endowment says it will not bow to campaigners’ demands for full divestment from fossil fuels
The University of Oxford has ruled out future investments in coal and tar sands from its multi-billion pound endowment, but said it would not divest from all fossil fuels as demanded by thousands of students, academics and alumni.
Campaigners welcomed the move as a victory for the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment campaign, as it was the first time the university had made clear its position on the issue.
“Many world leaders have studied under Oxford University’s spires,” said Andrew Taylor, at campaign group People & Planet. “They should be taking notes today. The lesson is: it’s time to phase out coal and axe tar sands.”
The university, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious, follows over 200 other organisations who have banned some investments in fossil fuels because of their role in driving climate change.
However, Oxford University said it does not hold any direct investments in coal and tar sands and its announcement on Monday contained little on new investment policies.
The university’s failure to commit to divestment from all fossil fuel companies means 70 alumni, including green energy entrepreneur Jeremy Leggett and journalist George Monbiot, will be handing back their Oxford University degrees on Saturday.
Sunniva Taylor, an Oxford alumnus said: “With the decision today the university has taken step forward, but not a big enough one. I, with others, have decided to hand back my degree, in protest.”
Oxford’s decision came on the same day that the University of Cambridge announced a wide-ranging investigation of its own investment policies. The two universities are by far richest in the UK and hold global esteem, with campaigners hoping their choices will influence other investors.
Oxford decided to exclude companies involved the most polluting fossil fuels – coal and tar sands – from its direct investments. “It has demonstrated that universities can carry out their academic mission while also acting with moral integrity in their investment choices,” said Felix Pinkert, a lecturer in philosophy at Oxford…
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