The Oxford University General Purposes Committee will meet today to discuss whether or not to recommend fossil fuel divestment, following a campaign from students, academics and local residents.
In May last year, students and residents of Oxford took to the streets in demonstrations calling for local authorities and the world-renowned university to divest from fossil fuels. Academics at the university have also called on the institution to cut fossil fuel companies out of its endowment, arguing that the university has a “responsibility to show leadership in tackling one of the greatest challenges we as a society currently face”.
Oxford University and its colleges have the largest endowment wealth of any higher education institution in the UK, with investments of £3.8 billion. Over the last 15 months students at the university have called for the institution to cut all direct investments in coal and tar sands oil, as well as establishing clear targets to move all investments away from carbon-intensive assets and into low-carbon alternatives.
Rivka Mickiethwaite, co-chair of the Oxford University Student Union, said, “In the 15 months since it began, our campaign has reached a critical point: on Monday the university will effectively decide whether of not to divest. We’ve come so far so quickly because there’s huge support for divestment at Oxford – from people who don’t what their institution, and their degrees, funding fossil fuel companies.”
Supporters of the Oxford divestment campaign point to a recent study from the University College London to highlight their concerns. The study argued that the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if the world is to avoid dangerous levels of climate change and warned investments in the industry are becoming “increasingly risky”.
It is estimated that around 200 institutions, with a combined asset size of over $50 billion (£33bn), have now committed to cutting fossil fuels out of their portfolios, including the British Medical Association, the World Council of Churches, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
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