Climate Action Society in the quadrangle of Glasgow Uni, March 2014. Image: Ric Lander.

After a relentless and inspiring campaign students at the University of Glasgow have won university divestment from fossil fuels.

A statement released at 3.40pm today said “the University of Glasgow today became the first university in the UK to commit to fully disinvesting from fossil fuel industry companies […].  Full divestment will mean the reallocation of around £18 million of current investments over a 10 year period.”

The University Court acknowledged the input of the student group Glasgow University Climate Action, part of the People & Planet network, who have run a vibrant and wide reaching campaign.

A petition to support divestment has received over 1000 signatures and hundreds added their faces to a photo petition earlier in 2014.

Glasgow student campaigner Sophie Baumert said yesterday “The profits made by our uni from an industry which is leading us towards a climate crisis are unethical.  After a year of hard work the this is the most important, far-reaching decision that it has faced in decades.”

The full statement from the University concluded with a comment from David Newall, Secretary of the University of Glasgow Court, saying: “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.”

A report by Platform and People & Planet last year estimated UK universities, through endowment and pension funds, invest as much as £5.2 billion in oil, gas and coal companies.  It was not clear today if the University of Glasgow’s decision includes pension investments.

People & Planet groups across the UK along with student and staff supporters involved in the Fossil Free campaign will now be racing to match the University of Glasgow.  There are around 50 active campaigns and 15,000 students have signed petitions in the UK.

UPDATE, 6pm

Glasgow University Climate Action have released the following statement:

Glasgow University Court this afternoon voted unanimously to divest the university’s £129 million endowment fund from fossil fuels.

The decision was made exactly a year after the Glasgow Uni Climate Action Society (GUCA) launched our campaign for the university to divest. Through our creative, public and pro-active campaigning, we have successfully persuaded the highest decision-making body in our university that it’s wrong to wreck the climate, and it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.

But this is not the end. We demanded that the university winds down its investments in fossil fuels over a five year period, but it has only agreed to do so over ten years. We will continue our fight, to tell the university that we don’t have ten years left to invest in fossil fuels.

On behalf of GUCA, I would like to say thank you so much to everyone who has supported our campaign so far. We couldn’t have achieved this victory without you.

I hope that today’s victory will be a signal to universities across the country that it’s time to stop investing in fossil fuels, and to start investing in a safe and liveable future.

Ric Lander

About Ric Lander

Ric is a Co-Editor of Bright Green and writes on economics, climate change and Scottish politics. His work based in Edinburgh supports grassroots fossil free campaigning.