Reacting to the news that Edinburgh University has failed to divest its funds from fossil fuels, Friends of the Earth Scotland finance campaigner Ric Lander said:

“The University has missed a clear opportunity to take a moral lead on tackling climate change and stand up for environmental justice.”

“The University appears content to have its money invested in the world’s most polluting companies including Shell, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. These companies are oil drilling in the Arctic and mining coal in virgin rainforest. Any investment policy which continues to allow investment in such irresponsible companies is not fit for purpose.” (3)

The University’s report says “full divestment could – and likely would – be seen as calling into question the appropriateness of teaching about fossil fuel exploration, and the appropriateness of carrying out research on means of exploitation of fossil fuel resources.” (1)

Yet research shows that more than 80% of global fossil-fuel reserves must be left in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change (5). The World Health Organisation estimates that climate change will lead to an additionally 250,000 deaths annually (6).

Ric Lander continued:
“People in Scotland are making a simple demand: that our public institutions stop investing in energy sources which are wrecking the climate. In response the United Reform Church in Scotland and University of Glasgow have fully divested from fossil fuels. Hundreds of local governments, religious groups and public bodies have gone fossil-free worldwide.” (2)

“All credit to the students and campaigners who have worked incredibly hard to push this issue to a decision. However, the University has failed to listen to their arguments preferring instead to adopt almost business-as-usual approach.

“I hope that their strong campaign will encourage other Universities and organisations to examine their investments to ensure they are not contributing to climate change.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland is calling on Scottish Local Government pension schemes to divest from fossil fuels.

Ric Lander concluded:
“Now is the time for the Scottish Government to give leadership on how public money can be invested in a way that works against climate change and supports a healthy future for everyone.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. University of Edinburgh statement and report: http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2015/fossil-fuel-policy-120515

2. University of Glasgow became the first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuels in October 2014: http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_364008_en.html

3. A list of the University of Edinburgh’s current investments can be found here: https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/download/attachments/68630087/Portfolio-of-inv…

4. 'Food, Fossil Fuels and Filthy Finance' Oxfam GB, 2014: http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/food-fossil-fuels-and-f…

5. World Health Organisation report on health and climate change: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/134014/1/9789241507691_eng.pdf?…

6. Sign Friends of the Earth Scotland petition calling for fossil-free pensions in your local government area http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/divestpensions

7. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 74 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups. www.foe-scotland.org.uk