Fossil Fuel Divestment and the University of Leeds

The fossil fuel divestment movement has grown very rapidly since 2014. The movement encourages large investors (like universities, pension funds, local authorities, and faith groups) to reinvest their money away from fossil fuel companies. So far, organisations holding funds worth more than £2.3 trillion have decided to divest. UK universities have been especially influenced by the divestment campaign. Among numerous others, the Russell Group universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, LSE, Oxford, Sheffield, and Warwick have already made full or partial divestment commitments.

But what’s the rationale for the divestment campaign? What difference does it make – to investors, to the fossil fuel industry, and to the chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change? And should the University of Leeds join the movement? Last semester, a student referendum committed Leeds University Union to campaigning for divestment at Leeds. What’s our university’s current investment policy and practice? What are the potential benefits and risks of divestment? How might things change?

In this seminar we’ll debate the implications of fossil fuel divestment for the University of Leeds and the wider world. Speakers will include Toke Dahler (Union Affairs Officer, Leeds University Union), and Chris Saltmarsh and Emily Vincent, activists in last year’s successful divestment campaign at the University of Sheffield. All staff and students are welcome, whatever your views on the issue, or whether you’d just like to find out more.