Campaigners have welcomed a move by Aberdeen University to divest from fossil fuels by 2025.
The university’s court voted to exclude fossil fuel firms from its £52.7 million investment portfolio, in a move viewed by environmentalists as significant for an institution based in Europe’s oil and gas capital.
Aberdeen University has close ties to the oil and gas sector, including research projects with the industry.
The move came after a nine year campaign by Aberdeen students involved with People & Planet, a UK-wide student climate justice network.
Announcing the decision, a university spokesperson said: “Our Aberdeen 2040 strategy makes clear our commitment to show leadership in working for the sustainable future of our planet, and our decision to divest from fossil fuels relates directly to that commitment.”
Laura Clayson, campaign manager for climate justice at People & Planet, said that cutting links with the fossil fuel industry ahead of COP26 represented a “necessary act of support for the frontline and Indigenous communities demanding climate and social justice at the talks”.
She added: “We are deeply encouraged by this hugely significant announcement from the University of Aberdeen. It shows that, it is possible to listen to the voices of students, prioritise a just transition that centres the needs of workers in the region and move away from the companies complicit in the climate crisis all at once.
She added: “We know this is just the first step on a long road but we thank the university for taking it. Fighting to make our planet liveable beyond now, should not be perceived as a radical position. It is a position of humanity to ensure that future generations of students can learn and expand their horizons like we have.”
Also welcoming the vote, Caroline Rance, climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said it was a “landmark moment in the transition away from North Sea oil and gas”.
She added: “This is the first institution in Aberdeen to cut financial ties with the oil and gas industry, in the city which has historically been known as the ‘oil capital of Europe’.”
“Oil and gas is an important part of Aberdeen and Scotland’s history, but it cannot be its future. The future now lies in a just transition to renewables and good green jobs, led by oil and gas workers and the communities in Aberdeen.”
The university is the 90th UK university to make a commitment to divest from fossil fuels. Three quarters of Scotland’s universities are now committed to excluding fossil fuel companies from their investments.
Robert Gordon University, also in Aberdeen, has not agreed to divest from fossil fuels and is also a focus of climate campaigners.
The Ferret revealed in January that two Scots universities – Glasgow and Strathclyde – who signed up to a COP26 green network of UK academic institutions committed to tackling climate change, had shares worth nearly £5.2 million in fossil fuel firms and arms companies.
Photo Credit: iStock/kodda