Sheffield & South Yorkshire

University of Sheffield to pull fossil fuel investment

A North Sea oil rig Image copyright PA
Image caption Students, staff and alumni have campaigned for the university to divest from coal, gas and oil

The University of Sheffield will sell its shares it holds in fossil fuel companies by the next academic year.

It follows concerns raised by staff and students over its endowment investments supporting scholarships, bursaries and academic posts.

A university spokesman said it was disinvesting given "overwhelming evidence of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change".

The announcement coincides with the Conference of the Parties in Paris.

Representatives from nations around the world are meeting to discuss a possible global agreement on climate change.

Campaign group People & Planet said the move follows a two-year effort calling for the university to divest from coal, gas and oil.

'Shared effort'

The university said its current academic research included a "focus on scientific and engineering solutions to the great challenges of climate change".

A joint statement by Sir Keith Burnett, university vice-chancellor, and Christy McMorrow, president of the site's students union, said: "We are committed to a shared effort to tackle climate change.

"Given the overwhelming evidence of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change, this commitment will lead us to disinvest within the next academic year."

Joe Russell, a third year student and campaigner at People & Planet Sheffield, said: "The decision of the university to divest, especially just as COP21 is beginning sends a clear and positive message to those inside the conference that we must keep fossil fuels in the ground."

The university confirmed it had changed its investment policy for the £39m of endowment funds it had received from donors.

Last year, Glasgow University became the first in the UK to announce that it was selling off its shares it held in companies that produce fossil fuels.

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