Today the University of Portsmouth has announced its divestment from fossil fuels. This comes as the university updates its Ethical Investment Policy to exclude all fossil fuel industry investments.
Portsmouth now becomes the latest UK university to commit to divestment as part of the Fossil Free campaign. The campaign, coordinated by student-led campaigning charity People & Planet, demands universities end all investments in the fossil fuel industry, in recognition of the industry’s role in the climate and ecological crisis. And in solidarity with the frontline and Indigenous communities resisting fossil fuel extraction across the globe. To date over 65% of UK universities, a total of 101 institutions, have made Fossil Free commitments, as students continue to demand divestment from the industry.
Campaigners are now calling on the University of Portsmouth to divest from the border industry, by ending investments in companies involved in the surveillance, detention and deportation of migrating people. The campaign, Divest Borders, highlights the ties between universities and border industry companies which profit from displacement and conflict. Divest Borders has received endorsements from student unions across the UK, as students demand their universities end investment in the border industry. In October 2022 Cardiff Metropolitan University became the first UK university to announce the exclusion of the border industry from their investments.
Laura Clayson, Climate Campaigns Manager at People & Planet, said: “It’s incredible to witness yet another university sever investment ties with this destructive industry. Excluding fossil fuel companies is fundamental to enacting meaningful solidarity with communities on the frontlines of both the climate crisis and those resisting fossil fuel extraction. Universities have a responsibility to address the harm they are complicit in through the companies held in their investment portfolios. That’s why we look forward to Portsmouth adding investment exclusions for the border industry next, in acknowledgement of the private companies profiteering from the hostile environment towards those who move.”
Paul Drohan, Investment Manager at University of Portsmouth, said: "Our divestment from fossil fuel forms a crucial part of our ambition of being a leading university in environmental sustainability. Our ethical and sustainable approach to investments means that organisations and countries that continue to profit from the extraction of fossil fuels are not aligned with these ambitions, and therefore won't benefit from a relationship with us.
"More broadly, the University's Ethical and Investment Statement affirms the alignment between attributes which are valued in potential investments, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in doing so seeks to support the University's wider commitments to the SDGs.
"We are committed to working towards becoming a climate positive university by 2030, which guides every aspect of our operations – from development of our campus and environmentally friendly catering to sustainable corporate systems and procedures.
"Our research and innovation is also making a positive impact, developing world-changing solutions to plastic pollution and the climate crisis."