Happening on Campus

Questioning the University of Nottingham’s investment in fossil fuel companies

Students at the University of Nottingham (UoN) are calling for the University to divest from fossil fuels.

On the 21st March, a few students gathered on campus in an attempt to convince the University to divest from fossil fuels.

In addition to this, there is a petition asking for the Vice Chancellor, Professor Shearer West, to divest from fossil fuels.

The petition is proposing that the University should “freeze any new investments in fossil fuel companies, [and] to divest from the fossil fuel industry and shift funds to lower risk, ethical investments within 5 years.”

“The total market value of UoN’s investment in fossil fuels is £3,952,351 as of 31st July 2014”

Allegedly, “fossil fuel companies Royal Dutch Shell, BP, BHP Billiton, Total and Centrica make up 11.08% of UoN’s portfolio and the total market value of UoN’s investment in fossil fuels is £3,952,351 as of 31st July 2014.”

According to UoN’s Investment Policy, the University will not invest in organisations that demonstrate “explicit environmental damage”.

In addition, the University of Nottingham’s sustainability policy claims that the University “will support a community that contributes towards a socially responsible and sustainable global society.”

“A recent investigation by META found that the University of Nottingham is a member of Euracoal”

Students are claiming that the University’s investment in these fossil fuel companies do not go in line with the environmental policies that the University have set up.

Nottingham’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Shearer West, has not commented on divestment, but supported divestment during her time at Sheffield as the Deputy Vice Chancellor.

Furthermore, a recent investigation by META found that the University of Nottingham is a member of Euracoal.

The article went on to mention that once they questioned the University about its membership, its name was removed from the Euracoal website a few days later.

“Euracoal is a European coal lobby group that refers itself as ‘the voice of coal in Europe'”

Euracoal is a European coal lobby group that refers itself as “the voice of coal in Europe” and “the umbrella organisation of the European coal industry.”

Its mission is “to highlight the importance of coal’s contribution to security of energy supply within the EU, to energy price stability, to added economic value and to environmental protection.”

Currently, Euracoal is suing the European Commission’s decision in placing restrictions on harmful air pollutants from European brown coal plants.

Talking about its membership with Euracoal, the article mentioned that once they questioned the University, they claimed that the relationship was only “historical” and that they had found no evidence of their membership being “active”.

Impact was, however, able to get in contact with a spokesperson from the University who said that: “We are happy to make clear that we are not a member nor have any affiliations to Eurocoal.

“We believe that the University of Nottingham has a moral obligation to divest from fossil fuels”

The student protest on the 21st March and the recent article by META have, however, brought more questions whether the institution’s involvement with fossil fuel companies undermines or is compatible with their Investment and Sustainability policies.

Cara Turton-Chambers, a Masters student, said: “Lobbying for coal undermines any attempt to be socially responsible. Coal is unethical in every way, shape and form.”

Jane Meehan, the Campaign Chair at the University of Nottingham Fossil Free group, said: “We believe that the University of Nottingham has a moral obligation to divest from fossil fuels if it wants to truly pride itself on its green image. It needs to make sure its investments are ethical and in line with their investment policy, in which they claim they do not invest in companies which demonstrate “explicit environmental damage”.

“We are happy to make clear that we are not a member nor have any affiliations to Eurocoal

Impact got in touch with the University, and a spokesperson said:

“The University is committed to both our own sustainability and that of the world we live in. We are investing heavily to reduce energy consumption, use more renewable energy sources and reduce our carbon footprint. We are proud to be ranked second in the Green Metric World Rankings, and will have reduced our carbon emissions by more than a third by 2020 […] We are actively considering our position on fossil fuel divestment and hope to have more news on this soon.”

Sarah Lindgarde

Featured image courtesy of ‘Matt Buck’. License here.

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One Comment
  • Adam
    30 March 2018 at 21:07
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    Not to mention the oil fired power station on campus!

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