Wolfson College divests £42 million from fossil fuel companies

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290px-Wolfson_college_oxfordWolfson College has been listed amongst the highest university divestors in fossil fuels in the most recent announcement from People & Planet, the network coordinating the campaign for UK universities to divest from fossil fuels.

The college have divested £42million from ‘companies that derive a majority of their revenue from the exploration, ownership or extraction of thermal coal and oil sands’ following a change in policy.

The move follows years of campaigning from staff, students and alumni to get the University of Oxford to divest from fossil fuels. The University itself ruled out the possibility of further investment in coal and tar sands in May but stopped short of full divestment from all fossil fuels.

As part of the campaign, some alumni handed back their degrees in protest at the continued investment by universities in companies exploiting fossil fuels. 68 alumni at the University of Oxford adopted such an approach.

One such alumnus of Wolfson, Jeremy Leggett, said in a statement: “Divesting from coal and tar sands is a good start, but it isn’t realistic to think that individual colleges and even universities can engage effectively with oil and gas giants to change behaviour. They should just divest. How incongruous is it to teach young people the science behind global warming’s dire threat to their future, and then invest in two of the main routes to fueling it?”

Oxford Brookes University moved further in divesting from all fossil fuels companies to the tune of £1.6million.

Amongst the other institutions to announce that they were divesting in the statement were Birmingham City University, Cranfield University, Heriot-Watt University, University of Hertfordshire, University of Portsmouth and the University of Westminster.

The news comes in the run up to the COP21 Paris Climate conference organized by the UN. The gathering will feature representatives from 195 countries and will focus upon attempts to reach an agreement on tackling climate change.

Piers Telemacque, National Union of Students’ Vice President for Society and Citizenship, said: “It’s amazing to see more universities divesting as we build momentum towards the climate talks in Paris. We need to show the sort of moral leadership we want to see from our governments. This is just the latest example of students making change on today’s most pressing social justice issue.”

The global campaign for divestment has had increased success in recent years, with over $2.6trillion divested to date.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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