There was a small macflurry of excitement on the Clyde this week as the University of Glasgow announced it was to sell its shares in Big Oil. This is what the university had to say:
Glasgow becomes first UK university to divest from fossil fuel industry
The University of Glasgow today became the first university in the UK to commit to fully disinvesting from fossil fuel industry companies. This commitment is subject to reassurance that the financial impact for the University is acceptable, the detail of which will be monitored by the University’s governing body, the University Court. Full divestment will mean the reallocation of around £18 million of current investments over a 10 year period. The decision was made after a period of consultation by an independent working group taking evidence from the Glasgow University Climate Action Society and the University Investment Committee. David Newall, Secretary of the University of Glasgow Court, said:
“The University recognises the devastating impact that climate change may have on our planet, and the need for the world to reduce its dependence on Fossil Fuels. Over the coming years we will steadily reduce our investment in the fossil fuel extraction industry, while also taking steps to reduce our carbon consumption."
There are, perhaps, 3 things to note about this:
1 – this, if it happens, will take 10 years.
2 – it will only happen if the university at least breaks even.
3 – there is a lot of difference between "fossil fuel industry companies" [ first line ], and "the fossil fuel extraction industry" [ last line ]. Which is it, I wonder. I note that it's definitely not: "industry that draws benefit from fossil fuels". That would be a rash move.
Anyway, good to see Glasgow's being so bold – sort of. Meanwhile, all kinds of outfits are associating themselves with this shift. The Independent reports WWF Scotland’s director, Lang Banks (sic), as saying:
“We’re proud to see the students and academics of Glasgow leading the way.”
And, as I write, the price of a barrel of Brent crude is ~$86.
November 4th Update