Lancaster University drops fossil fuel investments during COP26 negotiations

Lancaster University has announced that it will divest all of its investment portfolios, worth more than £3m, from fossil fuel companies.

Monday, 15th November 2021, 3:45 pm
Lancaster University’s commitment makes it the 92nd UK university to go fossil free and follows seven years of persistent organising by students and staff at the university.

Lancaster will also screen out arms trade and tobacco investments.

Lancaster University’s commitment makes it the 92nd UK university to go fossil free and follows seven years of persistent organising by students and staff at the university.

The campaign has been passed down through multiple generations of students. It began in 2014 with the founding of the Lancaster University Ethical Investments campaign by a coalition of social and climate justice societies - including the People & Planet and the SPEAK Societies - and ended with Lancaster University Extinction Rebellion's success last week.

Lancaster University’s announcement came last week as COP26 entered its second and final week, and highlights the type of meaningful climate action needed from the world in a time of unprecedented climatic changes.

With fossil fuel producers contributing 71% of global carbon emissions since 1988, whilst simultaneously spending more than a billion 'greenwashing' their branding and lobbying against climate policy behind closed doors, the UK student divestment movement has achieved significant success.

Campaigns supported by People & Planet - the UK’s largest student climate justice campaigns network - make up 42% of global educational institution divestment commitments.

Students are now turning their attention to Lancaster University’s Careers & Employability Service, and calling for them to explicitly exclude oil, gas and mining companies from recruiting and advertising in university spaces. This is part of a coordinated national campaign under the banner ‘Fossil Free Careers’.

Laura Clayson, campaign manager for Climate Justice at People & Planet, said: “We are thrilled for Lancaster’s students and staff, past and present, who have been involved in this victory for climate and social justice.

"This is a result of decades of organising at the institution, particularly against the university’s links with the arms trade. The exclusion of both arms and fossil fuel companies acknowledges the intersecting injustices experienced by those impacted by the climate crisis and the increased securitisation of borders.

"We now look forward to Lancaster aligning its careers practices with the green image it is constructing for itself, and adopt a policy that excludes oil, gas and mining companies from student recruitment.

"If these companies aren’t good investments, they aren’t good careers either: extractive industry jobs don’t make sense for students, the planet or the communities where they operate.

"It’s time for all universities to take these basic actions in solidarity with the Indigenous and frontline communities that are resisting fossil fuel extraction and experiencing climate impacts first and worst.”

Karen Ma, of Lancaster University Extinction Rebellion (LUXR), said:

“LUXR is excited to have worked successfully with the university on this project. After seven years of campaigning started by our alumni, we are glad to have cracked this complex divestment issue!

"Now we are calling, like students across the country, for a Fossil Free Careers policy to be adopted, excluding oil, gas and mining industries from recruiting students to their environmentally destructive businesses.”

Lancaster’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof Simon Guy said: “Our teaching and research activities and our carbon reduction commitments are already well recognised as sector leading examples for supporting the challenges faced by climate change.

"I am therefore delighted that our investment strategies are now aligned with the university’s strategic vision of delivering transformative change.

“We recognise this is a very important issue to our students and staff, past and present, and thank them for their engagement, support and encouragement in getting to this point.”