500 signatures reached
To: Dear Vice Chancellor Hamilton and Fellows of Oxford University
Oxford Alumni for Fossil Fuel Divestment
As alumni and donors, we call on the University of Oxford to show leadership on climate change and divest its endowment from the top 200 companies 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 political statement. While the University remains invested in fossil fuels it aligns its financial interest with, and endorses the behaviour of, the most destructive industry on the planet. Climate change is the greatest human rights challenge of our time; if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.
In the past, both in the case of South African apartheid and arms manufacturers associated with cluster munitions, the University has taken a stand on issues through its investment policy. In the case of climate change, the University must stand with hundreds of other institutions around the world that have already shown leadership on climate change and divested from fossil fuels.
For the University to invest in the fossil fuel industry is inconsistent with its own policy to “ensure that its investment decisions (including those taken on its behalf) take into account social, environmental and political issues in order to maintain its ethical standards”.
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, the University 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 Oxford alumni and donors, we urge our alma mater to take action on climate change and divest from fossil fuels.
Further alumni action:
Various alumni, including Guardian journalist George Monbiot, have agreed to symbolically hand back their degrees if the University does not divest. If you want to join in, please let us know here: http://tinyurl.com/handbackdegree, or any questions please email eande . chair@ousu . org.
How it will be delivered
This pledge will be delivered to the University shortly in advance of divestment being discussed by University Council, after going through many stages of consultation. This meeting could see divestment approved as University policy - let’s make it clear that this is what Oxford’s alumni want!
More information about the student campaign can be found here: