Glasgow University has become the first academic institution in Europe to commit to stop investing its money in the fossil fuel industry.
The institution said it had decided to take action because of the “devastating impact” that climate change could have on the planet.
Over a 10-year period, it will now move about £18m in investments to other sectors.
A total of 13 universities in the United States, including Stanford, have already committed to take their funds out of fossil fuels. And last month, the heirs to the Rockefeller family fortune – which was built on oil – announced they were going to sell off their fossil fuel stocks and invest in renewable energy instead.
However, the university stressed in a statement that its pledge was “subject to reassurance that the financial impact for the university is acceptable”. This will be monitored by the University Court, its governing body. Its endowment fund investments reportedly total about £128m.
David Newall, secretary of the University of Glasgow Court, said: “The university recognises the devastating impact that climate change may have on our planet, and the need for the world to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
“Over the coming years, we will steadily reduce our investment in the fossil fuel extraction industry, while also taking steps to reduce our carbon consumption.”
Glasgow University’s Climate Action Society said the move meant it was the first academic institution in Europe to divest from the fossil fuel industry, with society spokeswoman Sophie Baumert saying they were “delighted”.
“This is a huge step for the Fossil Free campaign in the UK and we hope that our university will serve as a role model for other universities,” she added.
Students have been campaigning for the university to withdraw its investments with petitions, flash mobs and demonstrations.
Environmental campaign groups suggested the writing was on the wall for fossil fuels. WWF Scotland’s director, Lang Banks, said: “We’re proud to see the students and academics of Glasgow leading the way.”Reuse content