Fossil fuel divestment
The University has divested from fossil fuels, a significant milestone in its journey to be carbon neutral by 2040.
Divestment sees the University remove direct and pooled investments in companies involved in the extraction and production of fossil fuels such as coal, tar sands, oil and gas from its portfolio.
Removing investments from such companies is a significant way organisations can signal their support for a transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy.
Zero by 2040
This action is part of a range of activities the University is undertaking to tackle the climate crisis and the latest step in the University’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2040 – ten years earlier than recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
As a University with a global reputation for researching climate change and supporting policymakers and communities worldwide to mitigate and adapt to its impacts, it is important that our own investments and operational decisions act on that knowledge. By shifting our investments out of fossil fuels and into organisations and funds that positively impact society and the environment, we’re playing our part in fostering a lower-carbon, healthier, more sustainable and equitable future.
The University’s research and teaching will continue to engage with the fossil fuel industry to aid the transition to a low carbon economy.
The news comes in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow in November.
Listening to the voices of students was a significant feature of the University’s approach to divestment. The fossil fuel review group which provided the recommendations to the investment committee included student representatives.
It is great to see the University’s announcement in completing their goals of direct equity divestment from fossil fuel companies, something our student activists and the Students’ Association have been passionate about achieving for years. Our University community should celebrate this success and I am excited to work with our engaged students and the University to continue the dialogue about the University's financial portfolio to see what additional action can be taken to further progress the University’s commitment to a low carbon future.
The University has now invested more than £170 million in low carbon technology, climate-related research and businesses that directly benefit the environment since 2010.
Edinburgh was 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. The University has scored ‘straight As’ in the past two years for excellence in responsible investment.
In 2020, the University became a founder member of a new Responsible Investment Network that will explore how universities can invest more ethically.
The University will continue to identify ways to reduce carbon emissions associated with investments and make a positive contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.
The climate crisis continues to be one of the most pressing issues facing humanity. By divesting from fossil fuels and choosing to reinvest in more socially and environmentally beneficial causes, the University is proactively supporting society’s transition to clean energy, a smarter use of resources and a more inclusive economy. We hope our actions inspire other organisations to increase their climate ambition in the lead up to the UK hosting COP 26. We are now considering what further action we can take to move beyond divestment and contribute to a zero carbon future.
Find out more
Read the University's divestment announcement on Thursday 25 February 2021, or read our Q&As below.