Cambridge University plans to stop fossil fuel investments by 2030

The Bridge of Sighs at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge.

Andrew Holt | The Image Bank Unreleased | Getty Images

The University of Cambridge said it would aim to “divest from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels” by the year 2030.

In a statement outlining its plans, the British university said Thursday the £3.5 billion ($4.53 billion) Cambridge University Endowment Fund (CUEF) also intended to “ramp up investments in renewable energy as it divests from fossil fuels.”

The move is set to be staggered. Among other things, the CUEF will: “withdraw investments with conventional energy-focused public equity managers” by December of this year; develop “significant investments in renewable energy” by the year 2025; and “divest from all meaningful exposure in fossil fuels by 2030.”

In addition, the fund will look to reach “net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its entire investment portfolio by 2038.”

Tilly Franklin, the university’s chief investment officer, described climate change, ecological destruction and biodiversity loss as presenting “an urgent existential threat, with severe risks to humankind and all other life on Earth.”

“The Investment Office has responded to those threats by pursuing a strategy that aims to support and encourage the global transition to a carbon-neutral economy,” she added.

In another step which could have significant implications in the years ahead, Cambridge explained that, going forward, “all research funding and other donations” would be scrutinized to make sure donors could “demonstrate compatibility with the University’s objectives on cutting greenhouse gas emissions before any funding is accepted.”

Tracing its roots all the way back to 1209, the University of Cambridge is one of the world’s most prestigious schools. With this week’s news, it’s become the latest high profile institution to announce its intention to divest from fossil fuels.

In April, the University of Oxford, which enjoys a friendly rivalry with Cambridge, announced plans “to divest formally from the fossil fuel industry.” The university said it had also instructed its endowment office to “engage with fund managers to request evidence of net zero carbon business plans across their portfolios.”

In March, Första AP-fonden (AP1), a major Swedish pension fund with billions of assets under management, said it would “no longer invest in fossil fuels.”

The Stockholm-based fund explained that the move toward a low-carbon economy less reliant on fossil fuels represented “a substantial uncertainty for companies involved in coal, oil and natural gas activities.”

Elsewhere, the University of Edinburgh laid out plans to divest from fossil fuels back in 2018 while in 2017, a coalition of 40 Catholic institutions announced a decision to pull their money from — or block future investment in — fossil fuels.

At the time, the Global Catholic Climate Movement called it the “largest joint announcement of divestment by Catholic organizations to date.”

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