segunda-feira, 18 de maio de 2015

University of Oxford to spurn coal and tar sands investments

The University of Oxford, one of the world’s oldest and wealthiest academic institutions, is to shun direct investments in coal and oil sands companies in a move hailed as a victory by fossil fuel divestment campaigners.

The University council, Oxford’s executive governing body, said on Monday it had asked managers of its £2bn endowment fund to bolster oversight of environmental factors in their investment policies.

“Given the importance of carbon emissions and climate change to society . . . council has also called for the level of engagement and public reporting on these issues to be strengthened,” the university said in a statement.

The university said it would “avoid direct investments in coal and oil sands companies”, revealing it currently had none, and also bar investment in “sectors with high social and environmental risks”.

Many campaigners welcomed the move, the latest response from investors facing an international campaign to stigmatise the use of fossil fuels.

“It’s definitely a massive step forward for Oxford,” said Andrew Taylor, fossil free campaigns manager at the People & Planet student network.

Bill McKibben, the US environmental campaigner who helped kick off the fossil fuel divestment movement, said Oxford’s decision was “unbelievable”.

But other campaigners said they would like to see Oxford go further and sell out of all types of fossil fuel company.

California’s Stanford University, the heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune and the Church of England have all announced plans to sell or cut their holdings in coal companies, and in some cases oil sands groups, over the last 12 months.

The University of Edinburgh has ruled out such a broad step, saying last week it would only ditch coal and oil sands companies if “realistic alternative sources of energy are available” and if the businesses fail to invest in measures to address climate change.

The vice-chancellor of Oxford university, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said the university was already “a leading force in the global fight against climate change”, and believed the main purpose of its investment fund was to generate financial resources to support its academic purpose.

“However, our investment managers take a long-term view and take into account global risks, including climate change, when considering what investments to make,” he said in a statement.

“The university believes that approach to be the right one and today’s decision reinforces it by encouraging greater engagement and reporting on this crucial issue to the environment and all of society,” he said.

Oxford said it still supported the continued inclusion of a broad range of energy investments “where financially prudent”.

At the end of last year, it said its fund had an estimated 3 per cent exposure to the wider energy sector.

This was made up of 1.7 per cent in exploration and extraction activities; 0.2 per cent in refining and marketing; 0.4 per cent in storage and transportation and 0.7 per cent in equipment and services.

The University of Cambridge, meanwhile, said on Monday it had agreed to set up a working group to “explore its position in the light of developments in the understanding of the integration of environmental, social and governance aspects in investment decisions”.

Fonte: FT