The University of Bristol has announced that it is divesting investments in companies that derive more than five per cent of their income from the most carbon-intensive sectors of the fossil fuel industry.
It follows a pledge made last year to focus energy investments on companies that are having the greatest impact on reducing carbon emissions.
The university’s Fossil Free Society, which has campaigned on the issue, praised the move as “one of the clearest and most wide-ranging in Britain”.
As part of the new policy, the university employed a new fund manager, Rathbone Greenbank Investments, whose goal was to reduce the carbon emissions profile of endowment assets invested in the energy sector.
Robert Kerse, chief financial officer at the University of Bristol, said: “Our aim was to end investment in companies that derive more than five per cent of their turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or oil and gas from tar sands by January 2018.
“I am very pleased that we have achieved this aim which supports the university’s strong commitment to sustainability and fighting climate change.”
The university has also been managing the wider impact of its endowment fund investments on climate change. It said that embedded carbon in fossil fuel reserves associated with endowment fund investments decreased by 78 per cent over the past nine months from 280,742 to 62,289 tonnes of greenhouse gases.
The carbon footprint of investments in the energy sector fell from 557 to 413 tonnes of greenhouse gases per £1 invested, it added.
The university’s divestment follows the World Bank’s announcement in December that it would cease financing upstream oil and gas after 2019. In the same week, New York City pledged to fully divest $5 billion from its pension fund.
Robin Boardman, of the Bristol Fossil Free Society, said: “It’s really exciting to see that our university has followed through its commitments to cut ties and stop supporting some of the worst climate offenders.
“This large carbon reduction is a great step in the right direction and we look forward to continuing such positive communications with the university to further reduce the remaining 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases still owned by the university’s investments in fossil fuel companies.
“Following New York City, the World Bank and other universities’ examples of , we will be working with the university to achieve a completely fossil free portfolio as soon as possible.”
The university’s strategy, launched in 2016, outlined its commitment to sustainability and addressing social and environmental challenges.
A key ambition is to be become carbon neutral by 2030, setting an example for the higher education sector.