Victoria University to review its investment in carbon-emitting fossil fuels

Victoria University of Wellington has initiated the necessary processes to move out of investment in carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

The green wall of native plants seen from Kelburn Parade

The University’s charitable trust has never held significant direct investments in the fossil fuel industry but, reflecting the University’s objectives, is now moving to confirm this exclusion.

“This decision is a natural step for a university like Victoria with a leadership role in geosciences and climate change research and policy. For example, recent research from our Antarctic Research Centre agrees with that of the international scientific community. Collectively, this research strongly suggests that unless the world reduces its reliance on fossil fuels, climate change and ocean acidification will have severe impacts on life on land and in our oceans,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Guilford. “Other factors taken into account were the business continuity risks from sea level rises to Victoria’s low lying Pipitea Campus, and the investment risks of ‘stranded assets’ in the fossil fuels sector.

“The University recognises that the world is still reliant on the fossil fuel industry and the intent of this decision is not to vilify responsible companies in the sector. It is important, however, that the University aligns its investment decisions with the results of its scientific research and its public stance on climate change while it continues to work on actively reducing its own carbon footprint. We will also continue to provide impartial advice and support to this industry as it works to develop alternative energy sources to accelerate transition to a sustainable future.”

Victoria is the first university in New Zealand to take this step, but joins a number of international universities, including ANU, Stanford and Glasgow, in withdrawing from investment in fossil fuel or coal companies. Other examples of international leadership in this area include the Portfolio Decarbonisation Coalition initiative associated with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.

Victoria recently appointed New Zealand’s first Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability) to strengthen the University’s contribution to a wide range of environmental issues. Victoria University is also New Zealand’s only signatory of the Talloires Declaration, a declaration of sustainability signed by more than 400 universities and colleges around the world.