Queen’s University Belfast set to divest from fossil fuels
Queen’s University Belfast last week announced their intent to end all investments in fossil fuels by 2025.
The announcement on the Queen’s University website states: “Following discussions with the Students’ Union, the University has updated its investment policy and will, subject to no detrimental impact on expected investment returns, seek to disinvest from companies involved in the extraction and production of fossil fuels by 2025.” The caveat of not harming investment returns is notable, but the statement still represents the firmest commitment by the university to date.
This follows more than 2 years of campaigning by the student activist group ‘Fossil Free QUB’ who have been agitating for the university to divest its money from fossil fuels. Over the years the group has put together a report outlining the case for divestment, organised numerous sit-ins and protests and even staged a 5-day occupation of part of the university administration building in December 2015 to raise awareness of the issue and get action from the university.
After FOI requests the group discovered that the university had millions of pounds worth of indirect investments in the fossil fuel industry, as well as indirect investments in tobacco and arms companies too.
The move follows a number of other divestment pledges from other universities following student campaigns, including Oxford, Edinburgh and LSE, and globally divestment pledges from a variety of different organisations are estimated to have amounted to around $5.5 trillion US dollars worth of assets.
Speaking to Bright Green, QUBSU President and campaigner for Fossil Free QUB, Seán Fearon said:
“Following a lengthy and radical student campaign Queen’s University has made a bold statement about its commitment to combating climate change.
The Students’ Union and Fossil Free QUB pursued a long campaign to raise awareness about the impact of climate change, stir radical and relevant student activism, and to bring the divestment agenda to the forefront of student politics in the north.
With this announcement, the University places itself on the right side of history, and adds to the hundreds of public bodies who have pledged to take a stand against the most significant challenge facing our world today, in a move towards a fossil free society“.