QUT Divests From Fossil Fuels, But More Information Needed
Monday, 5th September 2016 at 5:37 pm
Queensland University of Technology will dump fossil fuel investment from its $300 million fund, but the organisation which led the campaign for change said more details were needed.
Vice chancellor Peter Coaldrake made the announcement to staff on Friday that QUT would move away from investments in coal, oil and gas.
QUT is Queensland’s first university to divest from fossil fuels, and joins the Australian National University, La Trobe University and the University of Sydney.
Mark Thompson, QUT alumnus and Queensland Campus Divestment coordinator at advocacy organisation 350.org, told Pro Bono Australia News it was a milestone event after two years of campaigning.
“We’re all feeling very, very excited and really proud of QUT for taking this step to show leadership on climate change and divest from fossil fuel companies,” Thompson said.
“It was unexpected, but at the same time definitely due. We need this action on climate change.”
— 350Australia (@350Australia) September 5, 2016
But he also said the university needed to provide more information about the divestment process.
“We’re calling on QUT to make that information available,” he said.
“The university has published a statement and it doesn’t indicate the timeline, but they have made the commitment now to start that divestment process and we will be seeking to get confirmation on the timeline from the university.”
In its statement on Monday QUT said it wanted to be a leader among universities, which included acting as a responsible investor.
“As a major Australian university, QUT ambitiously positions itself as a university for the real world of today and tomorrow,” the statement said.
“We recognise our important responsibility to be an institution that is not only environmentally and socially responsible but also financially sustainable.
“In practical terms, this means that QUT is committed to an orderly and considered transition away from investment in fossil fuel companies while simultaneously ensuring that QUT continues to build the broader funding base essential for our future.
“In line with this commitment, we have reviewed QUT’s investments relative to climate risk and instituted changes to the University’s investment strategy.”
In its steps towards responsible investment, the university committed to having no direct fossil fuel investment, and said the Investments and Borrowings Committee had been established to monitor and report on QUT’s revised investment strategy.
Thompson also called on QUT to reveal information about its investment history in fossil fuels.
“QUT has a $300 million endowment fund which is managed by QIC [Queensland Investment Incorporation] and we’re calling on QUT to reveal more information about exactly what companies they are divesting from,” he said.
“But based on the typical exposure of QIC’s investment portfolio to fossil fuel companies, we estimate that several million dollars was exposed to fossil fuel companies and several million dollars will be divested from the fossil fuel industry.
“And this is really significant because QUT as a university is a thought leader in Australia and this sends a really strong message that there is no future in the fossil fuel industry.”
350.org began campaigning on the issue two years ago, delivering a petition with more than 1,000 QUT student signatures, and an open letter signed by more than 120 QUT academics, urging the vice chancellor to divest.
Globally more than 35 universities have committed to divestment.