We've launched our Divest-Invest campaign

Thursday 21-01-2016 - 11:58

Universities and colleges have over £180 million invested in fossil fuel companies. We are calling on all institutions to move their money into renewable energy instead.

Our Divest-Invest campaign was launched today at SOAS, the first institution in London to divest from fossil fuels.

100 paper windmills were planted outside to represent the £100 million we want to see shifted out of fossil fuels and into renewables.

The campaign has been launched in light of new research that shows the staggering amount of money invested in fossil fuel companies by higher and further education institutions.

Freedom of information requests showed that at least £180 million is currently invested in fossil fuel companies, although we believe the actual figure is closer to £600 million.

We also found that a quarter of universities receive benefits from energy companies, including scholarships, gifts and sponsorships.

A survey of students, students’ unions and staff showed that 85 per cent think their university should invest in renewables and 75 per cent want the opportunity to invest locally.

Other findings include:

  • 90 per cent of staff, students and officers are in favour of using renewables to supply heat, electricity and fuel.
  • Three fifths of staff, students and officers don’t know how to raise concerns about their institutions investments and two thirds don’t know how to raise concerns about research.
  • 14 per cent of universities and five per cent of colleges reported having governors linked to the fossil fuel industry.

Over the next 18 months we will support students’ unions as they push their institutions to cut ties with fossil fuel companies.

The Divest-Invest campaign aims to get institutions to divest £100 million of the money currently in fossil fuels and reinvest it in renewables, never invest in fossil fuel companies and switch to 100 per cent renewable energy.

Piers Telemacque, NUS vice president (society and citizenship), said:

“We looked into the investments of our universities and colleges because students don’t think our education system should be funding climate breakdown.

“We’ve set a target of moving £100 million of fossil fuel money into renewable alternatives. We’ll be working with students’ unions and showing leadership on sustainability where our government is failing.”

Graham Peterson, University and College Union environment co-ordinator, said:

"The United Nations has declared 2016 to be the year of Green Finance. It's therefore very timely that NUS has produced this excellent piece of research.

“The report and the survey highlight both the opportunities and the need to address investment strategy in colleges and universities.

“UCU looks forward to working with the NUS on ethical investment and divestment campaigns at both institutional and national level."

Izzy Annan, SOAS students’ union environment officer and co-president of Solar SOAS, said:

“We're really proud to be the first university to divest from fossil fuels in London, and we’re just as excited to be part of the launch to move that money into renewable alternatives.

“Our own Solar SOAS, a student-led renewable energy co-operative, is exactly the sort of thing universities should be championing now. To move £100 million into clean energy projects like this across the UK will be amazing.”

Read more about our Divest-Invest campaign.

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