Murray Edwards President Dorothy Byrne described the ranking as “deeply disappointing and puzzling”Wikimedia Commons

In an email to students of the College this morning (30/11), Dorothy Byrne, President of Murray Edwards College, informed students that some College funds were “meaningfully divested” from fossil fuel companies. The email did not indicate how long the College has been partially divested from the industry.

The email was prompted by a climate ranking of Oxbridge Colleges released this month by the Climate League of Oxford and Cambridge (CLOC), which ranked Murray Edwards last.

It was previously thought that the College had not begun the process of divesting its portfolio, since its investments have previously not been made public.

In the email, Byrne described the ranking as “deeply disappointing and puzzling” and not “remotely accurate.” A statement has been posted on the College website to clarify the steps it has taken.

The College holds investments in the Cambridge University Endowment Fund (CUEF), which will not be fully divested from the fossil fuel industry until 2030, so Murray Edwards is not fully divested.

Byrne stated: “There is of course much more we can do, and that is why the College Council has established an Environmental Committee to pull together all the strands of the work we are currently doing on sustainability.

“The aim of the committee is to develop and take forward an environmental sustainability strategy to help tackle one of the biggest challenges we all face.”


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Byrne continued: “I look forward to seeing the fruits of the work of the Environment Committee, and to working with all of you in achieving the College’s sustainability aims.”

Cambridge SU President Zak Coleman told Varsity that the announcement “is a really exciting step forward from Murray Edwards and demonstrates the power of student campaigning and public accountability.”

Coleman, who was involved in the creation of the CLOC ranking, said: “We wanted to be constructive partners with Colleges, exposing areas where work needs to be done and congratulating Colleges where good work is already ongoing.

“That’s why we contacted Colleges repeatedly before publishing the table asking for them to give us information on any climate action work that was not listed publicly. Although Murray Edwards did not respond to any of these communications, these new announcements are a really encouraging sign that they have taken on board the urgent need for change represented by the table.”

He added: “Now it’s time for the College to deliver, particularly focusing on creating a robust action plan to decarbonise its operations by 2030 and exiting its relationship with Barclays, the College’s principal bank, which is Europe’s top funder of new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

A spokesperson for Murray Edwards told Varsity that the College has no intention to divest from the CUEF "given the University’s divestment policy and intention to divest meaningfully also."