Oxford university academics support fossil fuel divestment

image copyrightFossil Free UK
image captionProtesters want institutions to pull their money out of oil, coal and invest it in ethically and financially sustainable companies

Fifty-nine University of Oxford academics have signed an open letter urging the institution not to invest in fossil fuel companies.

They are supporting the student-led Fossil Free campaign, which held a protest march in Oxford on Saturday.

About 150 students and residents gathered by the Radcliffe Camera and proceeded through the city centre, ending with a rally at Bonn Square.

The university is undertaking a consultation on fossil fuel divestment.

'Informed debate'

In the letter, the academics urge the university to "take action on climate change" by "ridding its £3.8bn endowment of investments in fossil fuel companies".

They want the money pulled out of oil, coal and gas firms and re-invested in more ethically and financially sustainable companies.

They argue that Oxford university has a "responsibility to show leadership in tackling one of the greatest challenges we as a society currently face".

Signatories to the letter include Lord Professor Robert May, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, Lesley Gray, Professor of Atmospheric Physics and Professor Gordon Clark, current director of the Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and former chair of the University's Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee.

Twelve US universities, including Stanford, and 26 cities, have already committed to the cause.

Oxford University said the issue was "complex and multifaceted" and required "the collection of evidence and opinions, and time for reflection and informed debate".

"Fossil fuel divestment is a broad issue involving many different university departments and activities, and that any engagement on this issue will need to consider a range of stakeholders across the whole of the university."

The consultation is set to conclude on 23 June and the review will be held on 2 July, with findings published on the university website.

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