UoM open consultation on investment “decarbonisation”
By Nicole Wootton-Cane and Anja Samy
University leadership have opened a consultation to all students and staff into proposed changes to its investment portfolio, in the wake of the current climate emergency.
In an announcement made this morning, the University has outlined its suggestions for the “decarbonising” of its investments, following their agreement to bring forward the next review of the policy in December.
The University described its policy change as “pioneering”, with plans to implement divestment not only from “fossil fuel reserves and extraction” but also “disinvestment based on carbon intensity”.
Proposed changes include a multi-stage process, that in its initial phase would see UoM reduce its equity investments in fossil fuel reserves and extraction by 99% (with the intention of later eliminating all equity investments in this area), and a 30% reduction in the “carbon intensity” of their equity investments in the next two years.
In addition, the University has “explicitly committed” to actively decarbonise its investments so that its investment portfolio reaches zero carbon in 2038, a target which it has called “ambitious in comparison to national targets and actions of other organisations which have focussed largely on one aspect of carbon emissions.”
The report outlines the University’s ‘Immediate term (2019-2022), Medium term (2023-2027, and Long term (2028-2038)’ goals. Most immediately, UoM proposes broadly decarbonising its investment portfolio, “reducing exposure to carbon intensive companies”, and “reducing potential emissions from fossil fuel reserves”.
However, the University has notably resisted from divesting fully from fossil fuel companies up until this point, leaving it among the final half of UK universities to still to commit to doing so.
A statement released by the University said: “The main reason for the policy changes is a recognition that climate change is likely the most important issue facing our planet today.
“We believe that this is a more radical, comprehensive and justified approach than disinvestment based on fossil fuel extraction alone.”
The University’s recent commitment to decarbonising its Socially Responsible Investment Portfolio (SRIP) came after significant student pressure to divest from fossil fuels, including a seven-day occupation of the John Owens building by climate campaign group People and Planet.
Last week, Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell told students from the School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures, that the University of Manchester would do “a lot more” to tackle the climate crisis than any other UK universities, despite their decision to remain holding investments in Royal Dutch Shell and BP.
Addressing staff and students, a statement from the University posted on their website read: “The approach we are proposing is important because we believe climate change is a priority. We would like you to consider what we are proposing and feedback your thoughts and comments and whether you support the general direction that this policy sets out by Monday, 9 March 2020.”
According to Manchester University’s most recent Draft Revised Policy for Responsible Investment, these “major changes” proposed by the University will be implemented “with immediate effect if the consultation results in support”.
Students and Staff of the University of Manchester can give feedback on the proposed investment policy changes until Monday, 9 March 2020 through an online questionnaire.