The University of Sheffield says it has finally completely divested from fossil fuels, after it was criticized earlier this year for a failure to follow through on its pledge.

Environmental organisation People & Planet criticised the University for still having three investments in companies which derive income from fossil fuels in its portfolio, as of July 2018.

Now though, the University say they have finally sold their last shares in the final investment, Royal Dutch Shell, to complete the public commitment they made in 2015 to divest from fossil fuels.

They added that they are still continuing to develop their new sustainability strategy.

A University spokesperson said: “This is not the end of our socially responsible investment journey.

A busy time for climate activism in Sheffield: Extinction Rebellion campaigners blocked a busy Sheffield road in protest last month Picture: Ewan Somerville

“Over the summer a working group of University staff, representatives from the Students’ Union and our investment managers, will review and update our Endowment Investment Policy to ensure it continues to reflect the sustainability priorities of the University and our students.

“I’m frustrated but glad to see they’ve FOLLOWED THROUGH. campaigners can’t rest on their laurels” – people and planet

“Any changes to the policy will be discussed and agreed by the University’s Finance Committee and Council in Autumn 2019 and announced as part of our new sustainability strategy.”

A long time coming

The commitment to divest from fossil fuels came after a campaign by People & Planet at the Students’ Union, in the wake of several universities across the country making similar commitments.

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Chris Saltmarsh, who led the campaign in 2015 and now works for the national People & Planet organisation, criticised the University in January for still having three investments in companies which make money from fossil fuels.

They responded by saying the Ethical Investment Advisory Group guidelines meant all companies the University holds investments in must derive below 10 per cent% of its revenue from fossil fuels, which all three companies did.

However, after pressure from Forge Press and other media outlets, they revealed they were still working to remove the final three investments from their portfolio, and this announcement seems to mark that goal, more than three years after the commitment was initially made.

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Chris Saltmarsh said: “This news is really exciting. It demonstrates the power of students campaigning to get the University to commit to something like this, then follow through on it.

“I’d like to congratulate them, even if it took longer than expected. I’m frustrated by it but I’m glad to see they’ve followed through.

“They said they’d do it within a year, but this just shows that campaigners can’t rest on their laurels, and should keep campaigning until an issue is finished.”

The Students’ Union Officers have been approached for a response.

 

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