University of Manchester to decarbonise investment portfolio

Investments will be withdrawn from fossil fuel reserve and extraction companies and redirected to those that are carbon efficient

The University of Manchester says it will “decarbonise” its investment portfolio, and make it zero carbon by 2038 at the latest.

Investments in fossil fuel reserve and extraction companies will be ended by 2022. Since these only account for 3-5% of the provider’s total investments, it will also make all investments zero carbon by 2038.

“Since most CO2 emissions do not arise from the direct activity of fossil fuel companies, but through the use of fossil fuels by others, we will also take the more ambitious step to shift our investments to carbon efficient companies,” explained University of Manchester vice-president for social responsibility, Professor Nalin Thakkar.

“We believe this is a more radical, comprehensive and justified approach than disinvestment based on fossil fuel extraction alone.”

Although these are difficult times, through our research and teaching, and the ways in which we invest for our future, we can play a crucial role in an environmentally sustainable recovery from the pandemic

The university has committed to reducing the carbon intensity of the overall investment portfolio by 30% by 2022. Carbon intensity is a measure of carbon efficiency, in which the total amount of carbon dioxide emission by a company is divided by the level of its activity (as measured in value of their sales).

Share investments will be redirected from carbon-intensive companies to companies that are more carbon-efficient. The university will then “move as quickly as possible to net zero” by 2038.

The changes to the University’s Socially Responsible Investment Policy have been agreed after a wide consultation with staff, students and alumni earlier in the year which attracted nearly 600 responses.

The Policy was developed in consultation with the University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which also developed the city of Manchester’s zero-carbon target, and the Students’ Union.

Professor Thakkar added: “We know these issues are important to our staff, students and alumni, and bringing benefit to society and the environment is at the heart of our University’s purpose.

Although these are difficult times, through our research and teaching, and the ways in which we invest for our future, we can play a crucial role in an environmentally sustainable recovery from the pandemic.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of The University of Manchester said: “I am delighted that after lengthy consultation and discussions, we can now launch our ambitious new investment policy and I am very grateful to all who have worked so hard on this.”


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