A survey of the UK’s universities has revealed that whilst a growing number of the institutions recognise the impact of their investments and are publishing ethical investment policies, just six are committed to assessing the climate change risk associated with their investments.
The 2015 People & Planet University League found that whilst one third of universities are now publishing ethical investment policies, 80% of those refuse to disclose which companies they invest in. Additionally, it found that just six universities are assessing how climate change will affect investments, despite research suggesting negative impacts, but a handful of universities are now committing to divesting from fossil fuels.
The news follows a study from the University College London that found that majority of fossil fuels must remain in the ground if dangerous levels of climate change are to be avoided. Supporters of fossil fuel divestment argue that such a move not only helps the environment but also makes economic sense. Studies have suggested that when the need to tackle climate change is factored in, many fossil fuel stocks are overvalued.
The People & Planet University League scores universities against questions covering 13 topics, including carbon reduction, sustainable food, education for sustainability, and ethical investment. Plymouth University comes out top, followed by the University of Worcester and Manchester Metropolitan University.
The University of Bedfordshire, which ranks 14th in the league table, has also announced its commitment to cut fossil fuels out of its investment portfolio, making it the second university in the UK to do so after Glasgow University.
Bill Rammell, vice chancellor of the university, said, “We are acutely aware of our duty to invest our money in ways which match our values and prioritises the future of our students. We do this by promoting justice, integrity and sustainable growth.”
He added, “As part of that commitment we ensure that all investment decisions are made responsibly and take seriously the threat of climate change. Therefore we took the decision not to invest in specific sectors such as fossil fuels and this is written in our ethical strategy.”
Nest month will see the Fossil Free campaign hold a global day of action calling for institutions to divest from fossil fuel companies.
Photo: Abd allah Fotieh via Flickr