Cambridge University to scrap fossil fuel investment

By: AFP      Published: 06:21 PM, 1 Oct, 2020
Cambridge University to scrap fossil fuel investment

Britain's Cambridge University on Thursday pledged to stop investing in fossil fuels by 2030, bowing to pressure from environmentalists including its own students.

The world-renowned seat of learning in eastern England said the pledge is part of its overall goal to slash carbon emissions to zero by 2038 -- well ahead of the UK government's 2050 target.

The institution will now switch its £3.5-billion ($4.5-billion, 3.8-billion-euro) endowment fund -- one of the largest of its kind in Europe -- towards renewable energy.

Cambridge added that a move, which will end both direct and indirect investment in fossil fuels, marked a "major break" because it has long held close financial and research ties with energy sector giants such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell for at least 20 years.

In future, all donations will be scrutinised to ensure that donors demonstrate compatibility with the university's new objectives on slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Climate change, ecological destruction, and biodiversity loss present an urgent existential threat, with severe risks to humankind and all other life on Earth," said Tilly Franklin, chief investment officer at the university. "The investment office has responded to those threats by pursuing a strategy that aims to support and encourage the global transition to a carbon neutral economy."

Vice-Chancellor Stephen J Toope said in a speech to mark the start of the new academic year that the initiative "demonstrates our determination to seek solutions to the climate crisis".

"We will approach with renewed confidence our collaborations with government, industry and research partners around the world as together we work for a zero-carbon future."

Oxford University announced in April this year that it would divest from fossil fuels and commit to a net-zero investment strategy, again after high-profile student protests. It also pledged to halve emissions across the university by 2030.

Pressure group Cambridge Zero Carbon called the latest move a "historic victory for the divestment movement".

"After decades of close collaboration with the fossil fuel industry, Cambridge University has been forced to concede to divestment demands put forward by student and staff campaigners," it added. "This announcement comes five years too late and we'll be pushing for the 2030 commitment to be brought forward."

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