Queens' has announced the strongest commitment to divestment of any Cambridge collegeLucas Chebib

Queens’ College has announced today it will divest the £55m of its endowment in equity investments from fossil fuels industries – the strongest commitment so far from any Cambridge college to environmentally ethical investments.

The college’s investment committee consulted with ethical investments specialists Elston Consulting to consider how to respond to students’ growing calls, committing to carbon-free principles whilst preserving the college’s financial health.

Today’s decision marks a direct response to mounting pressure for Cambridge and its colleges to remove their investments from fossil fuels industries.

In creating a custom equity benchmark for the endowment’s equity allocation which includes companies that comply with Environmental Social and Governance Funds (ESGs), and excludes extractive and carbon-intensive industries, Queens’ will be able to measure its asset managers against a benchmark for ethical investment.

The decision comes just under a month after the University of Cambridge announced it would reject calls that it commit to divesting its £6.3bn endowment from fossil fuels. The University Council’s milestone decision followed the publication of a report by its divestment working group which placed shareholder engagement and consultations with industry leaders over full divestment, going against calls from staff alongside direct action by student activists that the University withdraw its investments from the fossil fuels industry.

The college’s JCR voted earlier this year to support the movement for divestment.


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JCR president Hope Whitehead told Varsity: “We are very pleased that Queens’ has taken a leadership position”, adding, “we appreciate the work of our Senior Bursar in making this happen.”

Peterhouse announced in March it would remove all direct investments from fossil fuels companies, becoming the first Cambridge college to do so.

Several other colleges have been found to have significant investments in the fossil fuels industry, with Emmanuel allegedly having a £1.595m investment in the energy company Total and Selwyn having direct investments of £660,000 in Exxon and £830,000 in Shell.

A spokesperson for divestment campaigning group Cambridge Zero Carbon said: “Just last month the University was telling us that divestment was too complicated and impractical. Embarrassingly, this flimsy claim has now been disproved by one of its own colleges.”

  • Correction: This article was corrected to note that only the college’s equity investments are affected by the announcement.