Aberdeen University votes to divest fossil fuels

Richard Slessor – King's College, Old Aberdeen

A university famed for its expertise in assisting Britain’s production of fossil fuels voted this week to sell all its investments in the sector. 

The governing body of Aberdeen University, since the 1960s at the hub of European offshore oil and gas, agreed a deadline of 2025 to divest the estimated £3.1 million in hydrocarbon stocks in its £52.7 million portfolio, which pays for pensions and endowments.   

Greeting success after eight years of pressure, divestment campaigners among its staff and students believe Aberdeen is Britain’s 90th college or university so to commit. 

Decision-makers on the uni’s direction-setting body include a former HR director of Centrica, and Shell’s onetime chief exploration engineer, reportedly the architect of its degree course in petroleum extraction, and of the oil giant’s ‘campus ambassador’ programme at the university. 

A spokesperson for the university sa “Our Aberdeen 2040 strategy makes clear our commitment to show leadership in working for the sustainable future of our planet. Our decision to divest from fossil fuels relates directly to that commitment.

As reported by activist news source DeSmog, the figure went on:  “We are pleased to have worked alongside the student community in the development of this policy, which makes clear our intention to work with the energy sector as part of a just transition to a greener, more sustainable future”.

By 2025, the institution will ring-fence 5% of its portfolio to support businesses and sectors targeting environmental, social and financial returns, the spokesperson added. 

Alisa Koester, president of Aberdeen University Students’ Association and a supporter of the Fossil Free Aberdeen campaign, called the news “a massive win for environmentalism, students and our planet”.


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