The University of Liverpool has committed to sell its remaining £2.8m holdings in fossil fuel companies by July 2022, which represents 1.2% of the University’s investment portfolio. This decision was influenced by the Guild’s Fossil Free campaign and approved by the University’s Council in July.
The move to fully divest from fossil fuels builds on the University’s ethical investment policy introduced last year, which committed the University to exclude companies that derive more than 10% of their revenue from thermal coal and tar sands. This exclusion will now be broadened to cover all companies with significant revenues from fossil fuel extraction.
The original exclusions affected around £6.7m of the University’s investment portfolio, and the move to fully divest from fossil fuel extraction brings the total amount to be divested up to £9.5m (of which £9m relates to fossil fuels).
Nicola Davies, Director of Finance, said: “The case to reduce our investments in companies that derive significant revenues from fossil fuel extraction and production has increased with greater awareness of the impact of climate change.
“I am grateful to the Guild for the work they have undertaken in helping to bring us to this decision. I would also like to thank our Investments Sub-Committee for their input and advice. We will continue to review our investments policy on an annual basis to ensure it supports our values and ethics.”
The University is already working to reduce its carbon footprint and is undertaking significant research in carbon capture and storage. Our combined heat and power plant saves us around 7,000 tonnes of carbon equivalent (tCo2e) each year compared with using electricity from the national grid.
Guild of Students
Hannah Nguyen, Deputy President of the Guild of Students, said: “Fossil fuel companies have repeatedly abused the human rights of communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction and led us into the climate crisis we are facing. I am thrilled that the University has agreed to divest from this dirty industry.
“Full divestment is a huge win for the Fossil Free movement, and it’s all down to student activists at Liverpool who have campaigned tirelessly. Thank you to everyone who signed our petition, came door-knocking in halls and helped to organise the Fossil Free campaign.”
The University’s Ethical Investment Policy was introduced late last year and was developed in partnership with the Guild.
As well as coal and tar sands, it added a number of other exclusions to its investment portfolio:
- Companies that derive more than 10% of their revenue from the manufacture or sale of armaments
- Companies engaged in testing of cosmetic and non-pharmaceutical products on animals except where it is mandatory
- Companies that derive more than 10% of their revenue from the sale of tobacco products.
- Companies that manufacture tobacco products
The Ethical Investment Policy also commits the University to investing its funds on a socially responsible basis with due regard to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. It adopts both the UN Principles for Responsible Investment to better align investors with the broader objectives of society and the UN Global Compact principles focusing on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
The revised policy has been approved by the University’s Council. Adherence to the policy principles will be monitored by the University’s Investments Sub-Committee which will also review the policy on an annual basis.
A list of companies in which the University invests is published annually on the website and staff and students have the opportunity, via the website, to suggest additional areas in which the University should or should not invest.
The University’s investment portfolio generates around £6m in income for the University each year.
The University’s ethical investment policy can be found here: