As awareness of climate change has grown in recent years, fossil fuels have been cited as a major cause of global warming, and investing in them has become an increasingly contentious issue.
One area which has arguably seen the most strident criticism is the education sector, where student groups have increasingly voiced their opposition to investments deemed unsustainable, with fossil-fuel extraction companies a key target.
Echoing what activist environmental groups and high-profile campaigners such as Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg are doing in the political arena, many socially and environmentally aware students continue to try to make their voices heard by their university bursars, finance directors and investment managers in terms of investments that they consider bad or harmful from a socially responsible or environmental perspective.
The surge of interest in sustainability and ‘greener’ campuses has sparked a number of initiatives for universities to become more sustainable places, and perhaps, inevitably, attention has turned to where universities are investing their money.
In some cases, the pressure exerted has contributed to full or partial divestment from fossil fuels. In others, educational establishments have sought to make their investments more environmentally sustainable via investing through managers who seek to engage with fossil-fuel companies to lower their carbon footprint over time.
The Newton Responsible Investment Team.