Should universities divest from fossil fuels?

Divestment from fossil fuels is the focus of a campaign among students and other civil society groups that is gathering momentum – and faster, it seems, even than previous campaigns that targeted apartheid, tobacco and arms manufacturers.  Universities are among the institutions to come under particular pressure to withdraw their investments in funds that yield profits directly from fossil fuel exploitation.  But should they do so?

People unpersuaded by the campaign suggest that to do so would be socially, financially and institutionally irresponsible.  The manifestation of any one of these sorts of irresponsibility in a divestment decision would be sufficient reason to resist the demands.  The question, therefore, is whether an argument centring on any one of those concerns can, when carefully examined, actually succeed.  I look at them in turn in my latest think piece for the Just World Institute: Fossil Fuel Divestment: not whether but when.

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