To: Fellows of Lady Margaret Hall
Alumni Call for Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, to Divest from Fossil Fuels
As alumni and donors, we call on Lady Margaret Hall to show leadership on climate change and rid its endowment of investments - direct and indirect- involved in the exploration, ownership or extraction of fossil fuels.
We pledge to withhold donations until a commitment to divestment is made.
Why is this important?
Investments are a statement about how an institution sees the future. While LMH remains invested in fossil fuels, it aligns its financial interest with, and endorses the behaviour of, the most destructive industry on the planet. Such a practice is inconsistent with LMH's reputation as a pioneer in social justice: we are the college that ended the exclusion of women at Oxford in 1878 and established the innovative Foundation Year in 2017 to address equality of representation at Oxford. It is time for LMH to acknowledge climate change as the issue of our era, a driver of both environmental destruction and global inequality. It is time for LMH to stop profiting from the causes of climate change.
In the past, LMH has taken a stance on issues such as tobacco through its investment decisions, and edited its Statement of Investment Principles in May 2017 to include a provision that allows ethical concerns to guide its decision making. The stage is set for LMH to act on climate change, to lead as the first Oxford institution to do so, and to join hundreds of other institutions around the world that have already divested from fossil fuels.
Oxford scholars are at the forefront of research on the impacts of climate change, and were lead authors of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report - the global authority on climate science. The report made clear that 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned to stay below the critical threshold of two degrees of global warming.
Fossil fuel companies continue to disregard this scientific consensus. They are committed to burning 100% of their reserves, are actively exploring for more in ever more extreme environments, and are lobbying extensively to block meaningful action on climate change.
Leading actors in the financial sector acknowledge that fossil fuel investments are increasingly risky, given that known reserves will become ‘unburnable’ in a carbon constrained world. This work is being championed by Oxford Smith School’s own ‘Stranded Assets’ programme. We may already be seeing the influence of the IPCC research on the oil market: a recent report by Deutsche Bank suggested that last year’s drop in oil prices was driven by growing consciousness of a carbon budget and political momentum.
By divesting from fossil fuels, LMH can adopt the best investment practice both ethically and financially, act for the future of its scholars and alumni, and add its weight to the political momentum that is already undermining the industry. As LMH alumni and donors, we urge our alma mater to take action on climate change and divest from fossil fuels.