Students at the University of Strathclyde have welcomed a review of the University’s investments in fossil fuel companies. The creation of a new working group comes soon after the recent Youth Climate Strikes, which many Strathclyde students joined, and the announcement that Stirling University is to become the latest UK university to stop investing in fossil fuels. Students from the Divest Strathclyde University campaign have also launched a petition calling on the University to join the movement and switch its investments to support a clean energy future.
The online petition can be signed by students at https://campaigns.gofossilfree.org/petitions/divest-strathclyde-university/ by anyone wanting to show their support for the campaign. Divest Strathclyde University have also been arranging a series of film showings, the latest one of which is a rare UK screening of ‘Anthropocene’, a visually stunning documentary showing how humanity has changed the physical world. The screening will take place on Wednesday March 20th in Royal College room 513 at 7pm.
Across the UK, 71 universities have pledged to withdraw their investments in fossil fuel companies - more than half of the UK’s 130 universities and university colleges. Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Glasgow are among those that have already pledged to divest. In light of the 2012 Paris Agreement on climate change, campaigners are calling for widespread divestment as a means of ‘decarbonising’ our economy.
The new working group comprises staff from the University’s finance department as well as student representatives and campaigners from the Divest Strathclyde University campaign. Sara Cowan, the Vice President for Volunteering and Development of Strathclyde Students Union will be one of the representatives. She explains: “The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underlines how little time we have left to make drastic reductions in the amounts of greenhouse gases we emit. In light of this, investing in the growth of oil and gas companies is crazy. It’s not just that we shouldn’t support them with our investments, it’s also that these are not even good investments to make!”
A Freedom of Information report made last year revealed that around 9% of the University’s total investment of £3.8m was invested in companies listed in the Carbon Underground Top 200 companies. As a result of this, the Student Union last year adopted a policy calling for divestment by the University. In February, three students were invited to join a Senior Advisory Team on which will sit the acting Chief Financial Officer and other members of staff. The team will review possible divestment policies and strategies.
Richard Lane, an MSc student and member from the campaign group Divest Strathclyde said: “We welcome this response from the University. Many of the divestment policies we’ve seen from universities across the UK have come from exactly such a working group and we’re hopeful we will see some progress. It is absurd to be preparing students for long and prosperous careers whilst betting against that future with money raised in part from their tuition fees.”
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, Sir Jim McDonald, is a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals Accord - a collective pledge of support from the UK University and College sector to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 13 calls on everyone to “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts” - a call that the international Fossil Fuel Divestment movement is answering. So far $6tn of investment in fossil fuels have been cancelled worldwide.
The FoI response can be read at
More information and the list of Carbon Underground 200 companies can be found at https://fossilfreefunds.org/carbon-underground-200
See https://www.sdgaccord.org/ for more information and the list of signatories including Professor Sir Jim McDonald
For more information on fossil fuel divestment in UK Universities see https://peopleandplanet.org/fossil-free
For more on the recent announcement by Stirling University please see