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Elite universities in Great Britain are urging banks to divest from oil and gas

Elite universities in Great Britain are urging banks to divest from oil and gas

EA group of 21 universities in the UK, led by Cambridge, has called on banks to end all investments in fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Otherwise, they will recoup their investments, according to a group of universities that includes Oxford, Edinburgh, Leeds and the London School of Economics. They have 5 billion pounds (5.8 billion euros) in cash and investments, it said.

Some of Britain's older elite universities have larger endowments. Cambridge has already announced that by 2030 it will divest its profits worth around £4 billion from all financial investments linked directly or indirectly to fossil fuels. Anthony Odgers, the university's chief financial officer, said on Thursday: “Building new infrastructure, whether it's coal or gas-fired power plants or pipelines, prolongs demand for fossil fuels for decades.” The university doesn't want that.

Cambridge approached Barclays Bank directly last year. It has tightened its climate guidelines. HSBC and French Société Générale have already pledged to no longer finance any new coal or gas-fired power plants. However, the mentioned banks continue to have business relationships with major oil and gas companies such as Shell and BP, which explore and develop new oil and gas fields. Cambridge CFO Odgers acknowledged that no bank has yet met the university's strict desire not to be associated with fossil fuels, even indirectly.

The University of Leeds announced last year that it would transfer all deposits and accounts to Lloyds Bank, as Lloyds funds the lowest proportion of fossil assets of all British banks. According to the Make My Money Matter campaign, 90 universities in the UK have pledged to divest from all fossil fuel assets. But they are still with banks that finance companies that use fossil fuels.