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Lancaster University have announced the divestment of all its investment portfolios from fossil fuel companies worth over £3 million, making the commitment to go Fossil Free. As well as the divestment in fossil fuel, Lancaster University will also be screening out arms trade and tobacco investments.
This commitment makes Lancaster University the 92nd UK University to go Fossil Free after 7 years of campaigning run by several generations of Lancaster students and staff. Beginning in 2014, the Lancaster University Ethical Investments Campaign was created through the coalition of social and climate justice societies including: People & Planet and the SPEAK Societies; in our day and age, this work has been continued through Lancaster University Extinction Rebellion.
Following the announcement to go Fossil Free, the University has revealed the next steps in its commitment to environmental sustainability through the establishment of two new funds; ‘Responsible Multi-Asset Fund’ and ‘Advance Strategy Fund’.
‘Responsible Multi-Asset Fund’ – managed by Cazenove Capital – has been designed to, “have a positive impact on people and the planet by avoiding harm through Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) integration and exclusions.” Specially designed for charities, this fund aims to, “avoid harm by active screening of investments, including for climate change, tobacco and armaments.” The University have declared zero exposure to fossil fuel companies deriving more than 10% of revenues from fossil fuel activities.
The second fund, ‘Advance Strategy Fund’, managed by Brooks Macdonald, focuses on investing funds into providing investment exposure to, “businesses providing direct solutions to the sustainability challenges that the world is facing.” This fund will be framed around 8 core themes: cleaner energy, resource efficiency, water and waste management, sustainable transport, health and wellbeing, safety, education and financial inclusion.
Lancaster University currently have 2.4% exposure to a fossil fuel related companies. Noted as a necessary investment during the University’s transition from fossil fuel to sustainable fuels, the University have chosen to continue accommodating these companies if they continue to meet the University’s strict screening criteria and the Paris climate targets. However, eventually the University have plans to, “phase out natural gas.”
In addition to these funds, Lancaster University have also signed the COP26 declaration on climate expectations to asset management led by Students Organising for Sustainability which amongst other clauses means the University will now be aiming to achieve net zero emissions by at least 2050 with a minimum of 45% emissions reduction from 2010 levels by 2030.
Lancaster University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Simon Guy, commented that, “our teaching and research activities and our carbon reduction commitments are already well recognised as sector leading examples for supporting the challenges faced by climate change. I am therefore delighted that our investment strategies are now aligned with the University’s strategic vision of delivering transformative change.”
With the transition from Fossil Fuel to Fossil Free underway, students are now turning their attention to Lancaster University’s Careers & Employability Service calling for the exclusion of oil, gas and mining companies from recruiting and advertising in university spaces under the national campaign banner, ‘Fossil Free Careers’.
As the work of the Ethical Investments Campaign continues through Lancaster University Extinction Rebellion, it’s clear change is on the horizon. Karen Ma, from the Lancaster University Extinction Rebellion, expressed how excited LUXR are to have worked successfully with the University on this project and look forward to a Fossil Free future.