Fossil Free Commitments
This page lists the commitments made by UK education institutions to pursue fossil fuel divestment:
You can also view a list of other institutions that have committed to divest internationally here
People & Planet has been campaigning on the root causes and solutions to climate change since 1997 and had various campaign victories.
Universities & colleges committed to pursuing fossil fuel divestment
So far 21 UK universities have committed to divest from fossil fuels in one form or another.
- University of Glasgow
On 8 October 2014, the University of Glasgow became the first university in Europe to divest from the fossil fuel industry. After a year of student campaigning the University Court voted to begin divesting £18 million from the fossil fuel industry and freeze new investments across its entire endowment of £129 million!
David Newall, Secretary of the University of Glasgow Court, said:
“The University recognises the devastating impact that climate change may have on our planet, and the need for the world to reduce its dependence on Fossil Fuels. Over the coming years we will steadily reduce our investment in the fossil fuel extraction industry, while also taking steps to reduce our carbon consumption.”
- University of Bedfordshire
On 20 January 2015, the University of Bedfordshire became the second university in the country to commit to not invest in the fossil fuel industry. The University of Bedfordshire’s new ethical investment policy, which has been signed off by senior management, prevents the university from investing in the fossil fuel sector.
Bill Rammell, Vice Chancellor, University of Bedfordshire said:
“We are acutely aware of our duty to invest our money in ways which match our values and prioritises the future of our students. We do this by promoting justice, integrity and sustainable growth. As part of that commitment we ensure that all investment decisions are made responsibly and take seriously the threat of climate change. Therefore we took the decision not to invest in specific sectors such as fossil fuels and this is written into our ethical strategy.”
- University of London SOAS
On April 24 2015, SOAS – University of London voted to divest around £1.5 million of its endowment from oil and gas companies. It was the first university in London to divest, and also committed to exclude fossil fuel industry donations through its newly approved Ethical Investment policy.
Professor Paul Webley, Director of SOAS, said:
“SOAS is proud to become the first university in London to divest and we hope more universities will follow suit. Divestment from fossil fuels will enable SOAS to fulfil its responsibilities as an ethical investor, while continuing to ensure that the School’s investments deliver a financial return. This is in line with SOAS’ commitment to environmental sustainability and an important part of the transition towards renewable energy, which SOAS takes very seriously as an institution. As the harmful social and environmental impacts of climate change becoming increasingly clear, these initiatives ensure that SOAS is doing all it can to show leadership on this issue.”
- London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
On 13 May 2015, it was announced that the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine had become the first health research organisation in the world to sell off investments in coal companies from its £16m endowment.
A spokesperson for the university told the Guardian:
“The school’s investment committee has recently decided to disinvest from coal. We are continuing to review our other energy investments.”
- University of Oxford
On 18 May 2015, the University of Oxford ruled out future investments in coal and tar sands from its multi-billion pound endowment, but said it would not divest from all fossil fuels as demanded by thousands of students, academics and alumni.
- University of Edinburgh
On 26 May 2015, the University of Edinburgh announced that it intends to fully divest its £298m endowment from three of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers within six months. The decision was made following a 10-day occupation of a university management building by students from Edinburgh People & Planet over the university’s initial commitment to put engagement before divestment.
Professor Charlie Jeffery, the University’s Senior Vice-Principal, said:
“This decision underlines the recent commitment made by the University to address the challenge of climate change though its responsible investment policy. We will act quickly to reduce harmful emissions through divestment, reinforcing the work we do to act on climate change through research and teaching.”
- University of Warwick
On 8 July 2015, the University of Warwick committed to divest from fossil fuels, saying it will move the £1m of its investments in coal, oil and gas from its £14m endowment as soon as a suitable fund becomes available.
Sir George Cox, the chair of the University Council, said:
“Warwick’s students are global citizens who seek to challenge all of us to consider and reflect on how we as a community can have an impact on this issue both together and as individuals. Throughout the discussions leading up to today our students have presented clear arguments that they wanted council to hear and take seriously and they can be assured by the outcome of our meeting today that council has done so”
- University of Surrey
On 19 October 2015, the University of Surrey committed to fully divest it’s £42m endowment from all fossil fuels.
Professor Tim Jackson, a leading academic at the University of Surrey, said:
“Tackling climate change means divesting from fossil fuels and investing in alternatives. The Divest-Invest movement now represents a staggering $2.6 trillion shift in investment behaviour led by universities, churches, pension plans and governments all over the world. I am delighted that the University of Surrey has decided to join this growing movement for change.”
- Oxford Brookes University
In October 2015, Oxford Brookes University divested its £1.6 million endowment from all fossil fuel companies.
- Eight unis divest from coal & tar sands
In October 2015, research conducted with NUS also uncovered that Wolfson College (Oxford), Birmingham City University, Cranfield University, Heriot-Watt University, University of Hertfordshire, University of Portsmouth, De Montfort University and University of Westminster had divested from coal and tar-sands by investing with divested CCLA fund.
Piers Telemacque, National Union of Students’ Vice President for Society and Citizenship, said:
“It’s amazing to see more universities divesting as we build momentum towards the climate talks in Paris. We need to show the sort of moral leadership we want to see from our governments. This is just the latest example of students making change on today’s most pressing social justice issue.”
- University of the Arts London
On 12 November 2015, the University of the Arts London fully divested it’s £3.9m from fossil fuels.
Anastazja Oppenheim, who launched the Fossil Free campaign at UAL, said:
“We’re delighted that UAL moved their money out of the fossil fuel industry. By divesting under a month before the UN climate summit, UAL has joined the global movement calling for 80% of fossil fuel reserves to be kept in the ground.”
- The London School of Economics
On 26 November 2016, the London School of Economics committed to divest it’s £97.2mil endowment from coal and tar-sands and committed to reinvest in renewables.
Gabriel Davalos, an LSE alumni said:
“Big oil is not part of a sustainable future. Oil companies like BP and Exxon show which side of history they are on when they fund climate sceptic politicians in the US. LSE should divest from all fossil fuel companies.”
- University of Sheffield
On 30 November 2015, the Univerisy of Sheffield committed to fully divest it’s £40m endowment from fossil fuels and committed to reinvest in renewables.
A joint statement by Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor, University of Sheffield and Christy McMorrow, President, University of Sheffield Students union stated:
“The University of Sheffield and the Students’ Union are committed to a shared effort to tackle climate change. Given the overwhelming evidence of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change, this commitment will lead us to disinvest within the next academic year.”
- Sheffield Hallam University
In January 2016, Sheffield Hallam University committed to not invest it’s £0.5mil endowment in fossil fuels.
The following Student Unions have passed motions in support of fossil fuel divestment:
- Queen Mary Student Union
- University College London Union
- Edinburgh University Student Association
- Glasgow University Student Representative Council
- School of Oriental and African Studies Student Union
- University of East Anglia Student Union
- King’s College London Student Union
- Cambridge University Student Union
- Oxford University Student Union. Over 20 individual Oxford college ‘common rooms’ have also passed motions supporting divestment
- University of Birmingham Guild of Students
- University of Warwick Student Union
- University of Bristol Union
- Hull University Union
- Leeds Metropolitan University Student Union
- University of Sussex Student Union
- University of Sheffield Student Union
- Newcastle University Student Union
- University of Surrey Student Union
- University of Manchester Student Union
- London School of Economics Students’ Union
- Imperial College Union
- Durham Students’ Union
- University of Portsmouth Students’ Union
- University of Abertay Dundee Students’ Association
- Queens University Belfast Student Union
- Queen Mary University of London
If you’ve recently passed a Fossil Free motion through your Student’s Union, let us know and we’ll add your details above
The following organisations are working with People & Planet to support the fossil fuel divestment campaign:
- 350.org - our global partner in the Fossil Free campaign
- Operation Noah - our UK partner working to make UK churches fossil free
- SPEAK Network
- The Climate Coalition - formerly Stop Climate Chaos
- Universities and Colleges Union
- National Union of Students
Want to add your organisation’s support to this campaign publicly? Contact us
Open Letter to Universities UK
The following groups and organisations have signed our open letter to Universities UK, an association of UK university Vice Chancellors, calling on them to use their power and influence to support the Fossil Free campaign.