The University of Southampton has announced that it is to sell its shares in companies such as Shell, and have appointed Kames Capital as its new fund manager.
The University invests any endowment funds its receives into wider industry in order to generate capital, and in the past these have involved industries which pollute considerably. Recent moves towards ethical industry, however, partially as a result of petitioning by Invest Positive UoS, have meant that this fund was chosen to invest in after a rigorous screening process.
Whilst this does not affect the day-to-day running of the University, the fact that the University is investing students’ money into cleaner industry reflects the increased campaigning seen for cleaner and more sustainable investment.
The fund, and therefore students’ tuition fees, will not invest in the following:
- activities which are commonly held to be environmentally unsound – specifically manufacturers of PVC, ozone depleting chemicals and hazardous pesticides
- are in breach of internationally recognised conventions on biodiversity and companies in energy intensive industries which are not tackling the issue of climate change
- derive more than 10% of their business from the growing, processing or sale of tobacco products
This development is a resounding success for Invest Positive UoS, who secured the backing of the Students’ Union and obtained over 150 signatories in an open letter to the University regarding future investment.
Mike Allwright, member of Invest Positive UoS, reacted to the news:
This is great news! This announcement adds Southampton to a growing list of Universities who are out of at least coal and tar sands companies, and this will hopefully help to shape society’s idea of whether these fuel sources are ethical, and therefore impact on government energy policies and regulation.Universities aren’t just respondents to ethical opinions, they can positively shape them – especially when anything related to research and science is involved.
The University of Southampton now joins a select group of Universities which are committed to investing solely in industries which are not destructive to the environment, and also generate a positive environmental contribution.