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University of Manchester targets net-zero investment portfolio

The University of Manchester has announced a new commitment to end investments into fossil fuel projects and organisations by 2022, in line to creating a net-zero investment portfolio by 2038 at the latest.

The decision was agreed following consultation with 600 people, including staff members, students and alumni

The decision was agreed following consultation with 600 people, including staff members, students and alumni

The University has joined numerous others in divesting away from fossil fuel reserve and extraction organisations and has set a deadline of 2022 to do so.

Additionally, the university has confirmed it will aim to reduce to the overall carbon intensity of its investment portfolio by 30% by 2022 and the move to a net-zero investment stance by 2038, at the latest.

The decision was agreed following consultation with 600 people, including staff members, students and alumni.

Vice-President for Social Responsibility Professor Nalin Thakkar said: “We will stop investing in companies that hold fossil fuel reserves or are involved in extraction by 2022. However, these account for only 3-5% of our total investments.

“Since most CO2 emissions do not arise from the direct activity of fossil fuel companies, but through the use of fossil fuels by others, we will also take the more ambitious step to shift our investments to carbon-efficient companies. We believe this is a more radical, comprehensive and justified approach than disinvestment based on fossil fuel extraction alone.”

Across the city, Manchester City Council hopes to approve a new action plan that would commit to halving the council’s carbon footprint by 2025, in assistance with the city’s wider ambition to reach net-zero emissions by 2038.

In July 2019, Manchester City Council formally declared a ‘Climate Emergency’, which saw the ‘Principles of Tackling Climate Change in Manchester’ strategy introduced with an overarching aim of engaging people from all walks of life in climate discussions. Indeed, the framework paved the way for Manchester to set a 2038 net-zero target the year prior.

Divestment drive

On the divestment front, MPs have yet again called for the trustees of the Parliamentary Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuel companies Royal Dutch Shell and BP, having finally integrated investment into renewables into the fund.

The likes of the National Trust, Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM), the University of CambridgeLloyds of London, Aviva, Allianz, Axa, Legal & General, SCOR, Swiss Re and Zurich and The Church of England have now all begun or completed their divestment processes.  

Think tank Carbon Tracker has warned that major oil and gas companies risk wasting £1.8trn ($2.2trn) on stranded assets by 2030.

Matt Mace

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