YUSU’s Environment and Ethics Network is to hold an event protesting the University’s failure to live up to their ethical investment policy by investing in bonds which fund the fossil fuel industry. The Network, a new creation of incumbent Environment and Ethics part-time officers Norb Gordon and Ella Parker, is to hold the event on Friday 25 November.
The event, held on Greg’s Place, which will feature a ‘homeless’ polar bear, hopes to hold the University to account for not adhering to their own ethical investment policy, specifically that: “the University will not knowingly invest in companies whose activities include practices which directly pose a risk of serious harm to individuals or groups, or whose activities are inconsistent with the mission and values of the University.”
According to the National Union of Students (NUS), universities and colleges have over £180m invested in fossil fuel companies, and estimates that the actual figure may be closer to £600m, due to some institutions not wanting to disclose information regarding their fossil fuel investments. Environment and Ethics officer Norb Gordon said that, “by investing in fossil fuel companies, the University is failing to live up to their ethical investment policy, and in doing so, is perpetuating the harms caused by global climate change.”
The network will have petitions for students to sign asking the University to rescind their investment in fossil fuel bonds, and will be distributing flyers with information regarding divestment from the fossil fuel industry in general.
The event is part of the NUS’ wider ‘Divest-Invest’ campaign, which has caused 14 universities to make commitments to either full or partial divestment from fossil fuels.
YUSU activities officer, Alex Lusty said, “the Divest-Invest campaign is an NUS led initiative being run by the Environment and Ethics Officers. It centres on encouraging the University to diversify its stockholding portfolio, and in particular looks to highlight that holding bonds in fossil fuel companies is not only unethical but also inefficient. We hope to raise awareness of this issue and push the University to instead invest money in more ethical companies.”
When asked for a comment regarding the protest University registrar David Duncan told Nouse: “The University does not ‘sponsor fossil fuels’. While we do prohibit any company or economic sector from offering to sponsor research work, research activities are subject to a process of ethical review which considers the ethics of accepting funding from particular companies.
“We are currently in discussion with YUSU’s Environment reps about some of these issues. The student reps are full members of the Sustainability Working Group, which provides a forum for discussing strategy and policy on these areas.