University of Bristol to divest all fossil fuels by 2020

University of Bristol announced  that it will divest its £58.5m endowment from fossil fuel companies, after extensive talks and a long-running campaign led by the student group Fossil Free University of Bristol since 2014. The movement from partial to full divestment is planned to be completed by March 2020.

Bristol is the 10th Russell Group university to fully divest fossil fuels and joins 62 other UK universities with some kind of divestment commitment. They follow in the footsteps of University of Edinburgh in February and comes within a week of full divestments at both Durham and Cardiff universities.

Robert Kerse, Chief Financial Officer at the University of Bristol, said: “We’ve made a commitment to completely withdraw our investment from companies which support the fossil fuel industry by March 2020. It’s an ambitious timescale but we realise the importance of swift action to combat climate change.”

Last year, the University committed to divest from all companies who derived more than 5% of their revenue from thermal coal and tar sands. This was completed earlier in 2018. The 2017 agreement also promised the investment of £3 million in a ‘green’ fund. However, since September 2017, Fossil Free University of Bristol have continued to campaign for nothing less than full divestment.

Papatya O’Reilly, Fossil Free University of Bristol President studying English & Philosophy, said ‘It fills me with pride to know that our University is playing its part in the Fossil Free movement. So many institutions have divested now that it has become mainstream, and its impact is undeniable. Divesting is a powerful way of showing solidarity with frontline communities, whose exposure to fossil fuels takes its daily toll on their crops, health, and liberty. Now, we call on all other Universities to follow Bristol’s lead. Join us in preventing climate destruction, in moving our economics and culture towards a sustainable future, and in ensuring a just transition for those bearing the brunt.’

Until recently, the University maintained that it could use its remaining shares in fossil fuel companies to influence their transition to sustainability. However, following action taken by Fossil Free University of Bristol, this position was understood to be untenable.

Chris Saltmarsh, Fossil Free Campaigns Coordinator, People & Planet, commented, ‘Bristol’s full divestment after a powerful student campaign is another hammer blow to the fossil fuel companies haemorrhaging their social license to operate. 2018 has already seen Huddersfield, Sussex, Edinburgh, Anglia Ruskin, Durham and Cardiff divest millions from this terminally declining rogue industry. It’s time for our banks like Barclays and the UK Government to take our students’ and universities’ lead and exile fossil fuels from our economic and political life.’

Contact: Grace Carroll e: gc16288@my.bristol.ac.uk p: 07739989058

1. Details of the University of Bristol’s current investments in fossil fuel companies: https://peopleandplanet.org/university/129360#fossil-free-scorecard
2. University of Bristol’s partial divestment announcement:
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2017/march/fossil-fuel-divestment.html
3. University of Bristol’s completed partial divestment announcement:
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2018/february/fossil-fuel-divestment.html
4. University of Edinburgh divestment:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/06/edinburgh-university-divests-from-all-fossil-fuels
5. Durham University divestment:
https://www.palatinate.org.uk/durham-to-divest-from-all-fossil-fuel-companies/
6. Cardiff University divestment:
https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/media/media-statements/cardiff-university-to-stop-investing-in-fossil-fuels