University of Bristol to fully divest from fossil fuel industry


The University of Bristol has announced plans to withdraw its investments in fossil fuel companies.

The University has around £2m invested in companies connected with fossil fuel, all of which will be divested, following extensive talks with the Fossil Free society.

The decision makes Bristol the 10th Russell Group university and 62nd UK university to fully divest, coming just behind the University of Edinburgh, which made a similar decision last month.

Papatya O’Reilly, Fossil Free UoB President, said: ‘It fills me with pride to know that our University is playing its part in the Fossil Free movement. So many institutions have divested now that it has become mainstream, yet its impact is undeniable.’

The University had already introduced measures to reduce its involvement in the fossil fuel industry that were deemed insufficient by Fossil Free.

'Our University is playing its part in the Fossil Free movement'

Bristol University invested £3m in a ‘green’ fund in 2016, and last year pledged to divest from companies that derive more than 5% of their revenues from the extraction of coal, oil and gas from tar sands by 2018.

The University’s most recent decision, however, marks a move from partial to full divestment, that could see Bristol as the first Russell Group university to fully divest, with experts predicting that the process could be completed as soon as 2020.

Chief Financial Officer at the University, Robert Kerse, called the timescale ‘ambitious’, but emphasised the ‘importance of swift action to combat climate change.’

He said: ‘Hitting this target will make Bristol the first Russell Group university to achieve full divestment.

‘We are proud to be a sector-leader in sustainability - from the research we support, the curricula we teach and the student experience we offer, to the way we behave as an organisation.’

Chris Saltmarsh, People & Planet’s Fossil Free Campaigns Coordinator, saw this as a significant development in the national fossil fuel debate.

'Another hammer blow to the fossil fuel industry'

He said: ‘Bristol's full divestment after a powerful student campaign is another hammer blow to the fossil fuel industry haemorrhaging its social license to operate.

‘2018 has already seen Huddersfield, Sussex, Edinburgh, Anglia Ruskin, Durham and Cardiff divest millions from this terminally declining rogue industry.

‘It's time for our banks like Barclays and the UK Government to take our students' and universities' lead and exile fossil fuels from our economic and political life.’

Featured image credit: The University of Bristol

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Jecca Powell

Online News Editor / Second year English student