Cambridge to divest from fossil fuels with "net zero" plan

1st October 2020

University plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2038.

We welcome The University of Cambridge's aims to divest from all direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels by 2030 as part of the University’s plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2038, more than a decade before the date set by the UK government.

The £3.5 billion Cambridge University Endowment Fund – one of the biggest of its kind in Europe – intends to ramp up investments in renewable energy as it divests from fossil fuels.

This latest plan puts Cambridge at the head of the race to become the first university endowment of its kind where greenhouse gas emissions from the activities of all investments balance out at zero.

Announcing the move in his annual address to the University on Thursday, Professor Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor, said: “The University is responding comprehensively to a pressing environmental and moral need for action with an historic announcement that demonstrates our determination to seek solutions to the climate crisis. We will approach with renewed confidence our collaborations with government, industry and research partners around the world as together we work for a zero carbon future.”
The step-by-step changes – which the University hopes will inspire other institutions - will see the CUEF:
  • Withdraw investments with conventional energy-focused public equity managers by December 2020
  • Build up significant investments in renewable energy by 2025
  • Divest from all meaningful exposure in fossil fuels by 2030
  • Aim to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its entire investment portfolio by 2038, in line with the broader targets of the University.
Chief Investment Officer Tilly Franklin said: “Climate change, ecological destruction, and biodiversity loss present an urgent existential threat, with severe risks to humankind and all other life on Earth. The Investment Office has responded to those threats by pursuing a strategy that aims to support and encourage the global transition to a carbon neutral economy.” 
The University Council has endorsed this strategy to position Cambridge as a leader in research into practical and scientific climate solutions, an investor pressing for sustainable long-term portfolio management and an adviser to industry and government on climate policy.

The University also announces that all research funding and other donations will from now on be scrutinised to ensure that the donor can demonstrate compatibility with the University’s objectives on cutting greenhouse gas emissions before any funding is accepted.

The University is committed to using its resources to support the global response to climate change and the wider United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

To find out more, please visit The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and/or contact Paul Casciato


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