UNSW latest Australian university to divest from fossil fuels

TGL News

UNSW Sydney has joined other Australian universities who are significantly reducing their investment in fossil fuels.

The university has cut its investment in companies that directly own fossil fuel reserves by almost half, from $29.5 million to $16.2 million in 2018, according to a recent update of its sustainability policy.

The move represents 2.4 percent of UNSW’s total long-term investment portfolio.

The announcement comes after years of campaigning by members of the university’s community, particularly the activist group Fossil Free UNSW, which has been gathering signatures and advocating for the change for the past five years.

“By committing to partial divestment, UNSW are acknowledging that divestment is the right thing to do, so why can’t they commit to full divestment,” said Fossil Free UNSW.

“It is time for them to take the leap and join the mainstream, there’s only $16 million to go,” the group said.

UNSW joins eight other Australian universities that have committed to fully or partially divesting from fossil fuel supported companies. The others are La Trobe University, Queensland University of Technology, Monash University, Swinburne University, Australian National University, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne and University of Tasmania.

UNSW’s divestment is in line with its track record of creating sustainable technologies, and its work with the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living.

The university has a history of leading research in sustainability fields, from advanced recycling and climate science to renewable energy and storage, according to UNSW President and Vice Chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs.

“About 50 per cent of the solar panels sold world-wide today use UNSW-designed technology,” Professor Jacobs said, “and our alumni are at the forefront of the photovoltaics and energy transition industries.”

The university has also committed to increasing onsite solar energy generation and reducing its total emissions.