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

Coventry University has announced it is divesting its £43.6m investment portfolio from all fossil fuel companies. The move comes after a nine-month long student campaign. In making the decision, Coventry becomes the 100th UK university to divest from fossil fuels.

The major milestone for the divestment movement comes after almost a decade of campaigning from students across the country. In the UK, divestment campaigns in higher education institutions are coordinated by the student activist network People & Planet.

When People & Planet launched the UK wing of the Fossil Free campaign in universities in 2013, no higher education institution 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, two thirds of UK universities have divested from fossil fuel companies.

Across the globe, over 1,500 institutions 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 As a result, an estimated $40 trillion of investments have been withdrawn from the sector.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, £17 billion has come from the UK higher education sector.

Campaigners claim that the divestment movement utilises the power of public institutions to challenge the social license the fossil fuel industry has to operate.

Speaking on the 100-university milestone, Laura Clayson, a campaign manager at People and Planet told the Guardian, “It is always incredible to witness a university reject the fossil fuel industry, but especially so when it follows the work of phenomenal student organisers and brings us to such a milestone announcement. This is a win for all of those who have organised against the fossil fuel industry’s business model of deception, dispossession and destruction.”

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Image credit: Fossil Free Greater Manchester – Creative Commons