University Council’s statement on coal and tar sands divestment

In a report released on the 18th May 2015, University Council – the highest decision-making body – committed to a policy disallowing direct investments in coal and tar sands. This was a step forward in acknowledgement of the importance of acting as investors on climate change. It was not, however, a strong statement as the University currently holds no ‘direct’ investments in coal or tar sands.

This was a response to the report submitted to University Council by the Socially-Responsible Investment Review Committee (SRIRC) and the Fossil Free Campaign. The full report from SRIRC as well as Council’s decision can be read here:

Statement from Council on representations concerning fossil fuels (18.05.15)

SRIRC Report on Fossil Fuels

University Policy on Socially Responsible Investment:

The University endorses the principle of divestment through its policy on socially responsible investment:

Approved by Council on 10 March 2008

‘Oxford is committed to ensuring that it makes investment decisions responsibly and with integrity. The University will ensure that its procedures fulfill the following aims:

  1. (a) to engage with companies in which it might invest (that is, use its influence to encourage ethical standards, practices and lines of business acceptable to the University); or (b) negatively or positively screen investments on ethical grounds, where this does not reduce the financial return on investment, but with the proviso that, if the activities of a company are, on ethical grounds, inconsistent with the educational and/or research objectives of the University, then the University may choose not to invest even though this may reduce returns;
  2. to provide a forum for the review of investments under this policy;
  3. to monitor the University’s investments and the procedures for reviewing investment proposals to ensure that its ethical standards are maintained.’

Oxford University and Climate Change

‘if the activities of a company are, on ethical grounds, inconsistent with the educational and/or research objectives of the University, then the University may choose not to invest…’

Through the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), the University is a global leader in climate change research, including studies on climate change mitigation and adaptation policy. Researchers from the ECI contributed to the recent IPCC report, and helped to produce the interactive graphic “how hot will it get in my lifetime?” which predicts that global temperatures will have increased by between around 2 and 4 degrees from pre-industrial levels within the lifetime of an average undergraduate.

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