Protesting students lay down on the steps of the university’s stately Old College yesterday and angrily confronted the senior vice principal, Professor Charlie Jeffery, after he announced a much more cautious approach to disinvestment than had been expected.
The university rejected the option of withdrawing investments from all fossil fuel companies partly because of its involvement in research and teaching on the oil, gas and coal industries. “A broad-brush decision to divest would likely be seen as a sweeping and undue limitation to academic freedom,” concluded a university review.
“This option would also appear to increase the risk to capital and overall risks to the investment portfolio as well as raising serious concerns around the impact on the university’s existing investment approach.”
Instead, Edinburgh University opted for a policy of “engagement” with fossil fuel companies using “investment leverage” to persuade them to change their behaviour and cut climate pollution. Companies will be required to report on their emissions and compared to others in their sectors.