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University investing in sustainable future

An independent review of the University’s finances confirms investments in fossil fuels have dramatically reduced.

The report by financial advisers Mercer said that the proportion of Edinburgh’s portfolio linked to fossil fuels has halved since 2013 and fallen by almost 90 per cent since 2008.

The findings reflect Edinburgh’s continuing commitment to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland, the UK and the world.

Responsible investments

In 2013 Edinburgh became the first university in Europe to become a member of the Principles for Responsible Investment, a UN-backed initiative which aims to make the global financial system more sustainable.

In May 2015, the University signalled its intention to use its investments and procurement power to support the transition to a low carbon economy and to divest from the most destructive fossil fuel companies.

Within weeks, £2.5 million pounds of investment was removed from firms involved in the high polluting areas of coal and tar sands.

"A clear direction of travel"

In December 2015 the University moved investments into the Global Alpha Choice Fund. Like a number of other universities, this filters out companies with any significant interests in armaments, tobacco, gambling and pornography from direct investments.

This report underlines the significant progress the University is making on ethical and responsible investments. The University is travelling in a clear direction and we have done what we said we would do swiftly and effectively.

Dave GormanDirector of Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Changing how we consume energy

Investments is only a small part of a much bigger picture of how the University is tackling issues of sustainability and climate change.

The University is employing many of its world-class abilities to identify the threat climate change poses, particularly to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, and to develop innovative technologies to help mitigate against it.

It is one of the UK’s leaders in Combined Heat and Power technology. It has invested more than £20m in low-carbon energy to provide the majority of the campuses’ electricity needs. This has reduced emissions by almost 10,000 tonnes annually.

Innovative solutions

Edinburgh’s climate research is world leading. Its researchers have secured more than £50 million over the last seven years to fund work on climate science, emissions mitigation and sustainable solutions.

The University is home to several centres of climate and energy expertise. It undertakes ground breaking research into renewable energy, and teaches a range of innovative programmes in carbon management.

Notable research includes:

  • The School of Engineering’s world-class test facilities for wave and tidal energy, the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility.
  • A project to develop clean energy access for 250,000 people in Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
  • The Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage partnership, which is the largest grouping of high-level carbon capture and storage researchers in the UK.
  • The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation was established to bring together low-carbon leaders with practitioners from business and the public sector.
  • The UK Biochar Research Centre works to investigate a type of sustainable charcoal as a way to fertilize crops and take greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere.
  • The UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre, which is developing technologies that extract carbon from the flue gases of large emitters, such as power plants.

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