Having written about my concern prior to the decision, I am pleased that the University of Edinburgh now made the prudent choice not to divest its endowment of fossil fuels, but to instead engage with companies on their environmental policies.
Professor Charlie Jeffrey, senior vice-principal, rightly noted that the decision allows the university to leverage its investments “to bring about change” – not fall prey to an activist movement more concerned with media headlines than finding solutions to a climate problem.
Further proving its close consideration of this issue, the university will only divest if a company is “not investing in technologies that help address the effects of carbon emissions and climate change.”
This statement acknowledges the reality that there are plenty of energy-producing and consuming companies with the means to address climate challenges while meeting public demand. Why alienate ourselves as a research institution when we can instead become part of that change?
The UK needs excited engineers to fill the positions of today – many with energy and industrial companies – so that they can take part in developing the technologies of tomorrow.
Universities have the responsibility to encourage the workforce we desperately need, and rejecting divestment as a viable agent of change is one step in leading the effort.