EUSA fully supports the campaign for full divestment from arms and fossil fuels, and actions like today’s occupation of Charles Stewart House continue to show that students see ethical investment as a crucial issue within the university.
EUSA have worked hard, alongside student campaigners, to pressure the university to divest from arms and fossil fuels, and re-invest into sustainable companies. In February, the university approved an updated ethical investment policy which moved all direct investments into a fund excluding in any companies with over 20% turnover in armaments. We have since received confirmation that as a result of this policy, the university no longer has any investments in arms producing companies. This has included divestment from Rolls Royce, Meggit, and Heico, companies targeted for divestment by campaigners, in which the university previously held just under £1.5m.
Since the Fossil Fuels Review Group report published last year, the university has also continued to shift towards a low-carbon portfolio. Since the announcement to divest from coal and tars sands following a student occupation last year, the university has further reduced its investments in oil and gas companies by almost £5m. This has meant divestment from seven companies targeted by campaigners, including Total and BG Group, which are on the Top 200 Carbon Underground list. They have also invested funds in sustainable companies, such as Tesla Motors.
The student campaign for divestment deserves credit for keeping these issues at the top of the agenda of senior management, and galvanizing a culture change within the university on ethical investment.
We join People and Planet in calling for the university to remove funds from the three remaining fossil fuel companies, and re-invest in ethical and sustainable enterprises. Whilst there have been great steps forward, they have not been stated publicly, and information about further divestment has only been obtained through FoIs and informal channels. We echo People and Planet’s call for more public transparency from the university on actions taken following updates to the ethical investment policy.
We wish campaigners the best and will be ensuring their right to protest is protected, as well as liaising between campaigners and the university concerning potential outcomes.