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

Plymouth Marjon University has become the 102nd university in the UK to divest from fossil fuels. The university updated its ethical investment policy to exclude all fossil fuel investments from its portfolio as part of its wider sustainability strategy.

Simon Arthurs, Chief Operating Officer and Finance Director at Plymouth Marjon University, said: “At Plymouth Marjon University we actively embed sustainability in everything we do, aiming to make the university one of the greenest in the country. Our Marjon Zero programme includes one of the biggest ground source heat pump installations in England and installation of more than 2000 solar panels. We are also absolutely committed to ethical investment and procurement and have worked closely with our governing body to agree a commitment to divestment from fossil fuels which we’re very proud of. So as well as using sustainable energy on campus, we ensure that our investments are not contributing to climate change.”

Plymouth Marjon becomes the twelfth member of the Cathedrals Group – an association of universities with church links – to commit to divest from fossil fuels. 80 per cent of the Cathedrals Group have now divested.

Two thirds of UK universities have now committed to end their financial ties with the fossil fuel industry. This follows a decade-long campaign from students in the UK campaigning to secure divestment commitments. The campaign – known as Fossil Free – is coordinated by People & Planet in the UK higher education sector, and is part of a wider global movement.

Fossil Free campaigners say that universities should end their investments in fossil fuels in recognition of the industry’s role as a major driver of the climate and ecological crisis.

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 As a result, an estimated $40 trillion of investments have been withdrawn from the sector.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, £17.6 billion has come from the UK higher education sector.

Campaigners at Plymouth Marjon are now calling on the University to continue to cut other ties the institution still holds with the fossil fuel industry by adopting an Ethical Careers Policy that excludes oil, gas and mining industry recruitment on campus.

This is coordinated as part of the UK-wide Fossil Free Careers campaign, which urges universities to end their recruitment ties with the oil, gas and mining industries. To date Fossil Free Careers has seen four universities adopt this policy with a number of student unions across the UK also announcing their boycott of  the oil, gas and mining industries.

Laura Clayson, Climate Campaigns Manager at People & Planet, said: “It is incredible to learn that Plymouth Marjon University will be excluding fossil fuel companies from their investment holdings. Divestment is a meaningful act of solidarity with both the Indigenous and frontline communities engaged in daily resistance to fossil fuel extraction and those being impacted by the unfolding climate crisis. We look forward to the fossil fuel industry being excluded from Plymouth Marjon’s recruitment opportunities next.”

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Image credit: Fossil Free Manchester – Creative Commons