Following a request from our Students’ Association, the University set up a Fossil Fuels Review Group to consider the case for divestment of University assets from fossil fuel companies.
The Fossil Fuels Review Group included a Vice President of the Students Association, academic experts from the School of GeoSciences, the School of Law and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, a member of the University’s Investment Committee and senior University managers.
Following careful consideration of evidence, the Fossil Fuels Review Group provided a number of recommendations in a substantial report on the issue. The Central Management Group received and considered the report which was forwarded to the University’s governing body, the University Court, for decision at its meeting on Monday 11 May 2015.
In line with those recommendations, the University believes that we should seek means through our investments to support the transition from a high carbon to a low carbon society, as long as actions taken are consistent with other University objectives and values.
The recommendations of the group, endorsed by Court, are being progressed through the Investment Committee. These are as follows:
• Assess stranded assets argument (this issue is being progressed with the Committee’s appointed investment advisor);
• Identify and replace (to low or zero carbon investments). This option is being progressed both with appointed individual fund managers and the Committee’s investment advisor;
• Report, benchmark and improve. Consideration is being given to how best to progress this in an effective and proportionate manner utilising the expertise of academics within the University:
• Divest from highest carbon emitting fuels where alternatives exist. This recommendation resulted in an agreed methodology for targeting investments in companies engaged in the highest polluting activities (coal and tar sands), followed by divestment from three companies and engagement letters to remaining investments operating in the Fossil Fuel sector.
Divestment was achieved before the close of the 2014/15 financial year, and annual exclusion lists are provided to the University’s fund manager to ensure continued compliance with Court approved policy.
All information from the Review Group is available publicly here: http://www.ed.ac.uk/about/sustainability/themes/responsible-investment/reviews/fossil-fuels