Friday 21st October 2016                 Change text size:

University of Edinburgh ditches US drone investment after student concern


The University of Edinburgh has pulled the plug on its investment in a US drone component maker after a review of its portfolio, but continues to fund oil and gas companies.

The university, which is ranked by the Times as the 46th best university in the world, bowed to pressure from students and campaign groups by getting rid of its £400,000 investment in Ultra Electronics.

The firm, which is based in Middlesex, produces components for use in US drones, but the university has concluded that providing financial support for such a company does not align with its “socially responsible” investment ethos. However, the university still has holdings in oil companies Shell and Total.

A university spokesperson said, “We are committed to socially responsible investment and are the first university in Europe to sign up to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment. Having taken on board concerns raised by EUSA [Edinburgh University Students’ Association], we have taken the decision to disinvest in Ultra Electronics.”

Commenting on the news, Louise Rouse, director of engagement at ShareAction UK, said, “There are always calls to withdraw investments. What we would like to see is the university engaging through their investment managers with gas and oil companies to find out exactly what these companies are doing to address climate and carbon risks.”

She added, “We need to see more climate conscious investment across the board.”

The university refused to provide a further comment on the future of its fossil fuel holdings.

People & Planet, an organisation that campaigns against universities investing in fossil fuels, said, The university has 10 times more of its endowment invested in fossil fuels than in drones. This makes Edinburgh University the third largest university investor in fossil fuels in the UK.”

Further reading:

Australian National University announces sustainable investment strategy

US students call for responsible investment by universities

Manchester Met ranked greenest uni – but only 8 score full marks for ethical investment

Canadian university ranking put on spot over ethical investment

The Guide to Climate Change 2013

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