Press Release: University of Manchester ‘stall’ on fossil fuel divestment


University of Manchester ‘stall’ on fossil fuel divestment

Today 8th July 2015 – The University of Manchester’s Board of Governors today deferred the decision on whether or not to divest over £9.5 million from the fossil fuel industry.

Joel Smith of the Fossil Free Manchester campaign said: “The stalling regarding divestment by the University today represents indecision on a crucial and immediate issue which is already impacting communities globally. It seems like the University is deeply considering divestment and from the tone of the conversation it will be taken very seriously. Nevertheless it is disappointing that it has not acted swiftly in following the seven other universities in the UK taking the lead on climate change by divesting. However, we are hopeful of the correct decision following a full review of the issue and we will continue to take all action necessary to ensure a positive outcome.”

The deferral for full review by the University’s Finance Committee follows a year-long student-led campaign for divestment by the Fossil Free Manchester campaign group [1], which has seen an open letter signed by 96 University of Manchester academics [2], a 2,000 strong student petition, lobbying from the Students’ Union and numerous creative actions taken around campus.

The University of Manchester currently invests over £9.5 million in shares in six of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies including Shell, BP, Glencore Xstrata, Tullow Oil and Rio Tinto. Yesterday 96 University of Manchester staff, including author Jeanette Winterson and the renowned climate change academic Kevin Anderson, signed a letter stating: “We believe this is a tremendous opportunity for the University of Manchester to demonstrate decisive and forward-thinking leadership on one of the most pressing global issues of our time… We hope you will give serious consideration to our students’ demands that the university commits to freezing new investment in fossil fuel companies and divesting within five years from the top 200 fossil fuel companies that control the majority of carbon reserves.”[2]

Andrew Taylor Fossil Free campaigns manager at People & Planet said: “There is overwhelming support for universities to divest from the fossil fuel industry both in Manchester and across the UK, which makes it frustrating that they weren’t more decisive today. Why do Manchester University think that their Finance committee will find anything different to Oxford, Glasgow or Warwick?”

There is growing concern among students and staff at universities and other institutions globally about the dangers of climate change and the “carbon bubble” which threatens the £5.2 billion UK universities collectively invest in the fossil fuel industry. Over 200 institutions globally, with a combined asset size of over $60 billion, have committed to divestment, including the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the British Medical Association, and the Church of England [3]. Fossil fuel divestment is the fastest-growing divestment movement in history and is continuing to gain momentum for both moral and financial reasons [4]. AXA Insurance and the Norwegian Sovereign wealth fund also recently announced they would end investment in coal [5, 6].


Notes for editors

Contact: Naomi Wilkins 07909553497


  1. Fossil Free Manchester is part of the national P&P network of Sixth Form and Universitystudents campaigning on world poverty, human rights and the environment. See
  2. The full text of the open letter from university academics is available at
  3. For a full list of all the institutions that have divested, see


The campaign so far:


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