The interim report is currently available to University members and the final report will be submitted to the Council by July 2020Louis Ashworth

The University Council this week published an update on an ongoing report on the advantages and disadvantages of a divestment policy.

The update, published in this week’s edition of the University Reporter, says that the University Council, Cambridge’s executive governing body, “fully supports the view shared across the University that progress needs to be made on identifying the best ways to deliver a zero-carbon future.”

The Council, it continued, is “well aware of the urgency in addressing climate change and in particular the need to move fast in responding to the Grace.”

“It is committed to doing this while maintaining an evidence-based approach in keeping with its status as a research institution, and by harnessing the great interest and knowledge already amassed within the collegiate University.”

In April of this year the Council was directed to produce the report in order to examine the “advantages and disadvantages, including the social and political ones, of a policy of divestment from fossil fuels”, including estimates of cost, reputational consequences, strategies and an assessment of the “moral acceptability of a University committed to educating future generations, and whose core values include sustainability, benefitting from investments in fossil fuels that threaten that future”.

The instruction came after an official motion was signed by more than 300 academics and submitted to Regent House, the University’s primary governing body, in March. The open letter was prompted by significant protest of the decision made against full divestment by the Council in June 2018.

The new report is being led by Dr Ellen Quigley, a researcher appointed to initiate work on a part-time basis before the appointment of an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Officer, a new position agreed to on the 2017 recommendation of the Divestment Working Group (DWG).


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So far, Dr Quigley’s work has involved the coordination of a programme of “events, consultations, workshops and seminars” which her interim report says are aiming to “listen, record and synthesise views from across the University on the question of divestment, and on responsible investment more broadly…to educate the various constituencies within the University about responsible investing and…to provide guidance on best practices based on both the academic literature and approaches adopted by other responsible asset owners.”

Dr Quigley has recommended that the University join both the Institutional Investors group on Climate Change (IIGC) and the Responsible Investment Network-Universities (RINU). This has been approved by the Council.

The interim report is currently available to University members and the final report will be submitted to the Council by July 2020.

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