To recap, we have already published three blog posts of our University leadership series. Part 1 showed the ambitious renewable energy and carbon-neutral commitments of leading universities across Australia, Part 2 highlighted universities with Green Star certified buildings, and Part 3 detailed universities’ commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.
This is Part 4 of our tertiary education sector blog series where we look at the role of universities in fossil fuel divestments. We briefly discussed this previously in our blog post in 2017 which highlighted a number of universities who have committed to partially or fully divest from fossil fuels.
The movement to divest from the fossil fuel industry has grown rapidly in recent years and commitments have been made by many organisations, including local councils, charitable trusts, super funds and the ACT Government. Universities have been a central focus of the campaign with students urging their administrations to turn endowment investments in the fossil fuel industry into investments in clean energy and communities most impacted by climate change.
What is fossil fuel divestment?
According to Wikipedia, fossil fuel divestment is an attempt to reduce climate change by exerting social, political, and economic pressure for the institutional divestment of assets including stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments connected to companies involved in extracting fossil fuels.
Australian Ethical reports that, in 2019, the fossil fuel divestment movement is making it clear to companies who extract coal, oil or gas from the ground that they do so without a social licence. The release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere via the burning of these fossil fuels is threatening to destabilise life on this planet.
In Australia, fossil fuel divestment is being led by Universities and Local Councils as part of the global fossil fuel divestment campaign launched by 350.org in 2011.
Universities with fossil fuel divestment commitments
The following table shows universities that have made fossil fuel divestment commitments.
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