Oxbridge academics pressure for ”morally sound” investment

Elsa Maishman 2 February 2016

Over 300 academics at Oxford and Cambridge have signed a joint statement urging their universities to pursue more “morally sound” positive investment policies that do not utilise fossil fuels, in the face of “looming social, environmental and financial pressures”, The Independent has reported.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees are among the signatories.

The move is seen as a significant moment for Positive Investment Cambridge, the fossil fuel divestment movement active in Cambridge. The group campaigns for institutions to get rid of any investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous. Its primary focus is on climate change, though it is also concerned with other issues like the impact of indiscriminate weapons.

The statement from the Cambridge academics praised the University of Cambridge for endorsing the creation of a working group to investigate and review the impacts of the University’s investment policies. 40 University of Cambridge JCR and MCR committees joined the academics in their support.

Lord Deben, Cambridge alumnus and Chairman of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change, told The Independent: “This open letter, signed by so many esteemed fellows, is a sure sign that there is widespread support for positive investment among Oxbridge academics.”

“It is clear that, at the faculty level and amongst the student body alike, there is significant concern over climate change and other great ethical issues of our time, and positive investment appears to be viewed as at least part of the potential solution to the growing crises of the modern age.”

Organisers of the campaign have said that they hope to create a model for ethical investment that other universities will be able to copy. Ellen Quigley, a Cambridge PhD student who helped with the campaign, said: “We think that if that is developed at Oxbridge it would be taken very seriously on the global stage, and at least parts of it could end up being implemented by other funds the world over.”