The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Green’s Deputy Leader calls University’s investment in ‘big oil’ “completely irresponsible”

The Deputy Leader of the Green Party has criticised Manchester University’s investment portfolio

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Manchester University bosses have been told that “it is completely irresponsible to invest in companies that are causing dangerous climate change”; after The Mancunion revealed in issue 11 that the University holds 1.7 million shares in oil companies including Shell, BP and Halliburton.

The Deputy Leader of the Green Party, Adrian Ramsay said that it was important for universities to put pressure on companies which they hold shares in “to tackle human rights abuses and to promote the policies we need for an ethical, fairer world.”

The University of Manchester claims that its investment policy is guided by its “Policy for Socially Responsible Investment” which commits the institution to: “making investment decisions on the basis of specific social, ethical and environmental criteria.”

The policy goes on to state that using its position as an investor: “the University … will use its influence in an effort to reduce and, ideally, eliminate, irresponsible corporate behaviour leading to … environmental degradation and human rights violations”.

Despite this the University holds 738,166 shares in BP PLC; as well as 137,962 shares in Royal Dutch Shell, and 15,870 shares in the American firm Halliburton.

Both BP and Halliburton were heavily implicated in the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 in which 11 people died and 4.9 million barrels of oil were leaked into the ocean, devastating wildlife.

Shell meanwhile has faced severe criticism from several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, for its conduct in the Niger Delta. In November of last year Amnesty stated that, “Shell must commit to pay an initial $1 billion to begin the clean-up of pollution caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta.”

Independent estimates state that as much as 4,000 barrels of oil were leaked from the Trans-Niger pipeline every day for between four and ten weeks in 2008, causing terrific environmental destruction in a region where, according to the UN Development Fund, “60 percent of people rely on the natural environment for their livelihood.”

Looking to send a message to Manchester Vice Chancellor Nancy Rothwell, Mr Ramsay said that: “you’ve got the right policy on paper, but you’ve got to apply it in practice.”

Ramsay, who ran as a candidate in the 2010 general election, went on to say that he felt that the institutions’ investments in ‘big oil’ companies were “completely irresponsible … when the University’s policy is supposed to be about ethical investment.”

The university declined to comment when approached by The Mancunion about the condemnation by the Green Party Deputy Leader.