The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has become the first health research organisation to divest from coal companies because of the damage they cause to the environment and public health.
LSHTM follows the universities of Glasgow, Bedfordshire and Soas, University of London, all of which previously ditched fossil fuels companies. However, the health school only got rid of direct investments in companies that make more than 10% revenue from dirty energy – but not of commingled funds.
Previously, the institution had more than £1 million invested in BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Rio Tinto.
Earlier this year, a report by charity Medact and other organisations urged the health sector to divest from companies blamed for worsening climate change and pollution. It said the health implications of these phenomena made incompatible for the sector to have money invested in fossil fuels firms.
Last year, the British Medical Association (BMA) divested from fossil fuels on the grounds that they pose great risks to human health.
The decision by LSHTM follows a period of intense campaigning by environmental and student groups in the UK and elsewhere in the world, lobbying higher education institutions, religious groups and local authorities on the issue of fossil fuels divestment.
On Tuesday, Edinburgh University’s court refused to divest from fossil fuels, sparking protests among students, who accused the school of having conflict of interests. Students later staged a sit-in, intended to continue for as long as the university “refuses to make tangible commitments to stop funding climate change”.
Meanwhile, mayor of London Boris Johnson has dismissed a request by the London assembly to free the City Hall’s pension fund from oil, coal and gas companies. Johnson argued the UK needs fracking as a source of domestic energy in order to avoid importing gas from other countries.
Photo: James Ennis 2
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