The findings of the report follow a four-month investigation by the Jesus College Climate Justice CampaignLouis Ashworth

A new report by members of the Jesus College Climate Justice Campaign (JCCJC), has revealed that a minimum total of £5.15 million is invested by the College per year into “absolute worst-offending global exploiters and polluters”. As of October 2019, Jesus indirectly invested £807,705.77 into fossil fuel companies, including major investments to fossil fuel giants such as Shell and BP.

According to the report released on Wednesday (21/04), Jesus invests a further £4 million into a range of other companies engaged “in ecologically and socially destructive practices”.

The report, compiled after a four-month investigation by JCCJC, details the College’s investments and their ecological impacts, before making three recommendations. As a minimum, the campaign calls on the College to broaden the scope of their divestment decisions to include divestment from all major drivers of climate change, as well as companies with histories of worker violations and human rights abuses.

The College’s investments and assets are currently managed by Cazenove Capital, which comes under the umbrella of asset management company Schroders. The campaign’s second demand is that Jesus College leave this asset manager, due in part to what they consider Schroders’ “abysmal” record in voting on climate and social resolutions.

The report also recommends that in future, the College’s investments focus on sustainability and stable returns, transitioning away from public equity investments towards “Gold Standard Green Bonds”, bonds which are accredited for their commitment to reducing emissions by the Gold Standard Foundation.

Jesus College holds investments in companies which themselves fund fossil fuel companies, including Barclays and HSBC. The College invests over £1 million in the financial services company Allianz, which the report estimates invests £53 million into the fossil fuel industry.

In the report and their press release, the campaign asserts that divestment, while a good first step, ultimately does not go far enough to make investments more ethical. They urge colleges that have announced divestment to address all indirect investment and take a broader definition of environmentally and socially harmful practices which should not be funded.

If Jesus College takes up the recommendations made by the report, it will be the first college to extend its divestment program to cover removing investment from all forms of environmental damage and pollution. The report thus offers a potential widening of the scope of the University’s approach to divestment.

“Divestment is not good enough,” stated co-writer of the report, Harvey Brown, adding: “the College has a £46 million private investment portfolio and it’s currently using it to legitimise industries which are destroying the planet and exploiting its people.”

One section titled “Divestment as a Financial Imperative” outlines the campaign members’ argument that full divestment is not only ethically preferable but financially advantageous in the long term too. They assert that, with future governments expected to introduce legislation to limit fossil fuel usage in order to mitigate increasing global temperatures, fossil fuel companies will decrease in value in the coming years.

“It is no longer a question of if fossil fuel companies will have to cease operating. It is a question of when.”

With regard to the campaign’s proposal that Jesus leave Cazenove Capital, the report claims that Schroders has a “record of climate ambivalence”.

The report says: “If we are to become a sustainability pioneer, leading the way on the effective, bold climate action that institutions across the world must begin to engage in, we should at the very least invest our money through fund managers which have a ‘best-in-class’ record on climate action.”

The report’s second proposal asks the college to consider investing in options which contribute positively to the environment and climate. They recommend the college use “Gold Standard Green Bonds”. The report describes these as “actively positive, sustainability-driven wealth management options which have a far more directly positive impact on communities and the planet – as well as providing stable returns.”

A spokesperson for Jesus College told Varsity that they recognise the urgency of climate change, and described the College’s recent work on “a comprehensive set of new policies since before the start of the pandemic”, stating that fellows, students and staff have been involved in developing a brand-new “Sustainability Strategy” as well as a new “Responsible Investment Policy”, which is due to be released “in the next few months.”


Mountain View

Jesus College students and fellows hold demonstration urging for full divestment by 2022

The statement continued: “We always welcome engagement and ideas from members of the College as we seek to make a positive impact; some of the authors of the Climate Justice Campaign’s report have made contributions to our plans through consultations, Committee meetings and written submissions.”

The spokesperson added that the College is also making a difference through its “operations, estate and wider holdings”.

“We have been improving our sustainability for almost a decade and in the last year we have launched a huge number of initiatives, from free plant milk in our cafe to investing in a fully sustainable ground source heat pump for our kitchen project. We look forward to sharing our ambitions later this term.”

In 2019, Jesus committed to divest from its direct investments in fossil fuel companies.

The report follows a peaceful ‘die-in’ protest on Jesus’s First Court by members of JCCJC in October 2020, as well as the University’s commitment to fully divest its £3.5 billion Endowment Fund (CUEF) by 2030.