Jesus College sold shares in Hurricane Energysadsid96 on Flickr

Jesus College has “exited its directly owned equity investments” in the fossil fuel sector and is planning to adopt a responsible investment strategy, according to an email sent to College members today.

The College is selling its directly held equity investments in fossil fuel industries, including those in Hurricane Energy, a UK-based oil exploration and production company in the North Sea. According to a college spokesperson, Jesus has no direct holdings in arms manufacturing or tobacco companies.

Jesus plans to host an event in November for members of the College to “help develop its responsible investment strategy”.

Jesus has also told its members that it plans “to create its first ever sustainability strategy by October 2020”, using the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to “structure [their] plan”.

Pressure from activists and academics has mounted on Cambridge colleges, as well as the central University, to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Last year, it was revealed that 7 Cambridge colleges had holdings totalling £20.7m in companies engaged in oil and gas exploration, production and refining.

The Jesus Divestment Campaign, a student group dedicated to achieving full divestment from all fossil fuel companies at Jesus, was set up earlier this year by Jesus College Student Union Green Officer Zannah Lindley, and Angus Jackson, a finalist the College.

The campaign told Varsity: “While we welcome any moves by Jesus College to remove investments from the fossil fuels industry, we as a campaign remain committed to pushing the college to publish all its investments — both direct and indirect — for scrutiny and will continue working to urge the College to divest completely from harmful industries. The decision to exit from direct investments does not constitute the end of our campaign, as a large proportion of college investments continue to be made indirectly.

“We look forward to further discussions in the coming months to ensure the divestment process is complete, ethical and transparent.”

A spokesperson for Jesus College told Varsity that “as with all organisations which invest in funds, we are likely to hold some indirect fossil fuel investment.

They added: “We’ve been listening to College members and their concerns, and can confirm that we no longer hold any directly owned shares in fossil fuel companies.

“Amongst other environmentally focused work this term, we are planning an event in November involving College members to help us develop a new responsible investment strategy.

“We actively engage with our investment managers to ensure that they comply with the Charity Commission’s guidance on ethical investments and our existing Socially Responsible Investment policy”.

In a statement to Varsity, Cambridge Zero Carbon Society said “Jesus’ withdrawal of direct investments in fossil fuel industries is a testament to years of student campaigning. We call on all colleges, particularly those with large endowments like Jesus’, not only to follow suit, but also to show a more wholehearted commitment to fighting the climate crisis by removing indirect as well as direct investments in polluting industries.”

In March, Clare Hall announced full divestment from the fossil fuel industry.

Other colleges that committed to partial divestment along with Jesus include Selwyn, which sold off direct investments in fossil fuels, and Downing, which said it would end its ‘practical investments’ in fossil fuels. Downing also committed to offsetting its indirect investments with holdings in environmental impact funds.

  • Updated, 24th September 2019: This article was updated to include a statement from a spokesperson for Jesus College