Johnstone: University fossil fuel position weak

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, has described Edinburgh University’s fossil fuel policy announcement as “weak” and failing to following Glasgow University’s positive lead.

Although the institution says it will prioritise low or zero-carbon investments, it does not plan to withdraw from funding fossil fuel companies immediately but instead “work with” them in the hope of reducing their emissions.

Edinburgh University has a £291 million endowment, an estimated £9 million of which is invested in the likes of BP and Shell.

Recently Glasgow University announced it will withdraw over £18million of investments from fossil fuel companies, citing the “devastating impact” of climate change. AP2, one of the Sweden’s national pension funds, is to divest almost £80billion from coal and oil firms. And last week Bank of America announced it will withdraw investment in coal extraction companies.

AJ Divest Rally Feb 2015Alison Johnstone has championed the issue, securing a pledge earlier this year from Finance Secretary John Swinney that Scotland’s largest public pension investments will be made more transparent so that local government employees can see whether their funds are invested in the fossil fuels contributing to climate change.

Alison said:

“We cannot afford to burn all the fossil fuels we have access to if we’re serious about limiting climate change, so continuing to invest in such overvalued industries risks another economic crash. Glasgow University clearly understand this; it’s frustrating to see Edinburgh clinging on, hoping to change the behaviour of the big businesses they’re supporting.

“The divestment movement is growing all the time, and today’s announcement from Edinburgh University represents a missed opportunity. I urge them to rethink this weak policy and catch up with the likes of Glasgow.”