University announces fossil fuel divestment
Edinburgh Napier is proud to announce that the University has removed all direct investments from fossil fuel companies.
We have a strong history of enhancing environmental sustainability within and beyond Edinburgh Napier. To maintain our achievements and develop our work further, we have set significant commitments within our new University Strategy, including achieving net zero carbon in our operations by 2030 at the latest.
This announcement is in line with our net zero direction of travel and reflects our wider commitment to minimise both our wider and legacy carbon footprint and influence sustainable practices within and beyond our campuses. We are now fully divested from direct investments in fossil fuel companies, including investments through share providers.
Andrea Nolan, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “This announcement recognises the dedication and enthusiasm of our University’s students and staff to work together to meet our sustainability goals. We have made the commitment to achieve net zero carbon in our operations by 2030 at the latest, while also seeking to minimise both our wider and legacy carbon footprint and influence sustainable practices within and beyond our campuses.
“By removing all direct investments from fossil fuel companies, we are taking significant steps towards meetings these commitments. We have a strong history of enhancing environmental sustainability within and beyond Edinburgh Napier, and we will continue to work collaboratively to maintain our achievements and develop our work further through the sustainability commitments embedded within our new University Strategy.”
It is important to highlight the vital role our own Edinburgh Napier students had in making this happen. Members from the Edinburgh Napier Sustainable Society and the Edinburgh Napier Students’ Association were instrumental in making their voices heard, taking the issue to the University and advocating for the position of divesting from fossil fuels.
As well as engaging with senior leadership, the students also worked with the Edinburgh Napier University Development Trust to ensure that the Trust itself – a separate legal entity from the University which manages all philanthropic funds on behalf of the University – also removed all direct investments from fossil fuel companies.
The Trust has been working to reducing its exposure to fossil fuel investments over the last few years, and our students played an important part in working with them to make the final push to full divestment.
In February this year, investment management company Brewin Dolphin wrote to the Trust to confirm it had taken action to sell all remaining collective funds in the UK, Europe and the US where there was any indirect exposure to oil and gas companies, reinvesting the proceeds into a range of directly held stocks or into collectives where there is no underlying exposure.
Brewin Dolphin also stated it would continue to work with the Trustees not only to generate investment returns, but also to reflect the values of the University and the wishes of the donors within the investment strategy by favouring companies which contribute positively to society.
George Borthwick, Chair of the Development Trust, said: “Edinburgh Napier University recognises the challenges we all face in living and working more sustainably. Aligned to the University’s strategic priorities, the University Development Trust, which raises funds to provide student scholarships, bursaries and awards, has completed divestment from fossil fuels.
“As a University Development Trust, it is important that our own investments and operational decisions reflect the values that underpin our community. By moving all our investments out of fossil fuels and adopting a position that they should aim to have a positive impact on society and the environment, we are making a commitment to being a part of a sustainable, healthy and positive future.”
The Edinburgh Napier Sustainable Society said: “We at Edinburgh Napier Sustainable Society believe that education plays a vital role in the fight against climate change. We are incredibly proud to be a part of a University that actively listens to the student voice, and is leading by example to combat the climate crisis with its fossil fuel divestment. Although we are only at the beginning of our fight, this is a huge milestone that we have been grateful to be part of!”
Achieving this position has been a result of hard work and collaboration across the University, its partners and its students. We are especially proud of the commitment, passion and dedication of our students, who used their voice to ask for change and worked tirelessly to help make the final transition to full divestment happen. This accomplishment came about as a result of their efforts and pride in their University, and we are grateful for them continuing to challenge us and work alongside us to make these changes.
In addition to divesting from direct investments, the University has recently updated the existing electricity contract to procure 100% renewable electricity throughout all University buildings. From 1 April 2021, all electricity consumed is backed by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin.
Professor Gary Hutchison, Chair of the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy Group, said: “By removing direct investments from fossil fuel companies, we are underpinning our commitment to reducing our environmental impact and working towards a more sustainable future for Edinburgh Napier University.
“Our students have played a significant part in making this divestment happen, and will continue to have a voice on the University’s sustainable future through their involvement in our Environmental Sustainability Strategy Group. We know there is a lot of work still to do but by working together with our staff, students and local communities, we can make sure Edinburgh Napier University plays its part in tackling climate change.”
Meeting our net zero carbon goal will be a culmination of work from across the University, its staff and students, its local communities and partners. We are committed to collaborative working wherever possible and will continue to explore and identify opportunities to further reduce our carbon emissions and enhance our sustainability practices.