A group of people holding a banner reading "Divest for Climate Justice"

Brunel University London has announced it is divesting from fossil fuels. In doing so, it becomes the 99th UK university to make this commitment.

Following a student-led campaign, Brunel University London has now updated its Ethical Investment Policy to exclude all fossil fuels. The policy update not only covers current investments, but also includes a commitment not to hold any fossil fuel investments in the future.

Pippa Jillings, of Fossil Free Brunel, welcomed the news. Jillings said, “With universities and other educational institutions being hubs of youth and innovation for the future, it’s time they took responsibility for the future of their students. I’m so pleased that Brunel has joined 98 other universities across the UK in excluding fossil fuel companies from its investment portfolio – an amazing step towards delivering climate justice.

Over 1,500 institutions across the globe have now made public commitments to cut their financial ties to the fossil fuel industry. As a result, an estimated $40 trillion of investments have been withdrawn from the sector. Of that total, £15 billion has come as a result of divestment commitments from the UK higher education sector.

Such commitments have been made after consistent and sustained public pressure from grassroots activists and campaign groups. When student activist network People & Planet launched the UK wing of the Fossil Free campaign in universities in 2013, no higher education institutions in the UK had committed to divest from the fossil fuel industry. But after the University of Glasgow became the first to divest in 2014, dozens have followed suit. Now, Over 60% of UK universities have divested from fossil fuels companies.

Student campaigners at Brunel are now calling for their university to also divest from ‘border industry’ companies that enable the exclusion, surveillance and detention of migrating people in the UK and worldwide. This campaign, Divest Borders, recognises the role of the border industry in profiting from climate displacement and war. Divest Borders is a student campaign taking place at universities across the UK and has already won endorsement from student unions across England and Scotland.

Jillings said, “We would like to continue this progress, calling on the university to ensure divestment from the security and border industry, which continues to profit from surveillance of migrants.

Laura Clayson, Campaign Manager at People & Planet said echoed this call. She said, “It’s incredible to witness Brunel University London respond to student demands for Fossil Free. Every time a university rejects the fossil fuel industry it is an act of solidarity with both the frontline communities hit first and worst by the climate crisis and those resisting the impacts of extraction on their lands. We look forward to Brunel excluding the companies complicit in border injustice next, for climate justice cannot be realised without meaningful recognition of how deeply entwined it is with migrant justice.”

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Image credit: Fossil Free Greater Manchester – Creative Commons