Dundee University will divest from fossil fuel companies by 2025, the university’s interim vice-chancellor has announced.
Prof David Maguire announced the decision from the university finance and policy committee to divest an estimated £1.7m investments from its £25m portfolio.
People & Planet, the largest student network in the UK campaigning for social and environmental justice, welcomed the decision. According to a freedom of information request, around 6% of Dundee’s investments are in fossil fuel companies, including holdings of more than £770,000 in Royal Dutch Shell and £485,000 in BHP Billiton.
According to the most recent People & Planet sustainability league table, The University of Dundee has one of the poorest records on sustainability of any UK university, ranking 134 out of 154. The annual People & Planet league table ranks universities based on 13 metrics: Dundee scored 0% for its ethical investments and 19% overall.
Prof Maguire, who serves as interim principal and vice-chancellor, said: “The university strategy states that we will build upon our strong track record of improving environmental sustainability to minimise the negative impact we have on the world and its resources.
“We have a duty to play our part in responding to the climate emergency, and there needs to be actions as well as aspirations. With that in mind we are divesting from fossil fuel companies. We have listened to the staff and student voice on this issue, and they have rightly pressed us to take clear and timely action.
“Divestment is a process that will take a relatively short amount of time and we are already progressing with that.”
When we started campaigning for divestment, one of our arguments had been that we want to take pride in our university. By committing to divestment, the University of Dundee shows an active standpoint for a better future
– Hannah Feuerstein, fourth-year student
Dundee joins a growing list of universities that have agreed to divest from fossil fuel companies, which includes 17 of the 24 Russell Group institutions. Last month, the University of Cambridge announced it would divest its fossil fuel investments by 2030; its investments are valued at £32,428,500, and account for 6.5% of its total endowment.
The decision was welcomed by students and staff at Dundee University.
Hannah Feuerstein, a fourth-year art and philosophy student, was one of the organisers of the ‘Divest Dundee’ campaign. “When we started campaigning for divestment, one of our arguments had been that we want to take pride in our university. By committing to divestment, the University of Dundee shows an active standpoint for a better future, works towards climate justice and takes the responsibility it has for its students seriously,” she said.
Natasha Ion, from People & Planet, said: “It is great to witness the University of Dundee make a fossil fuel divestment commitment. This announcement to full divestment shows the strength and collective power of staff and students working alongside each other. It also shows how meaningful international solidarity with frontline communities can be enacted in a time of multiple crises.
“We look forward to seeing the university enshrine this commitment in policy and continue to work alongside Dundee divestment organisers – from decisions around where Dundee moves their money, to further actions that can be taken toward a future premised on climate and social justice.”