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What They’re Saying

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Following extensive deliberative review, some of the UK’s most respected universities, organisations and thought leaders have rejected divestment as a sound means of addressing the effects of climate change – siting the campaign’s roots in activism over credible analysis, as well as the potentially significant financial losses that could result in such an investment approach.

Below is what representatives of these groups, as well as independent thought leaders, are saying in challenging the divestment campaign.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates, Co-chair

I don’t see a direct path between divesting and solving climate change. I think it’s wonderful that students care and now the Pope cares. But that energy of caring, I think you need to direct it towards something that solves the problem.

25th June 2015 - Read Full Remarks

University of Oxford

Smith School of Environment and Economics Report

“Since a divestment campaign has little hope of directly impacting the future cash flows of fossil fuel companies, neutral debt or equity investors have little cause to shun to fossil fuel companies. […] Considerable communication with management of the target firm can be undertaken to influence behaviour before using up the trump card of divestment.”

October 2013 - Read Full Remarks

Mayor of London

Boris Johnson

“I have urged the London Pension Fund Authority to use its influence as a large intitutional investor to encourage long-term behaviour in the companies in which they invest. […] Therefore I cannot accept the Assembly’s motion on divestment.”

11th May 2015 - Read Full Remarks

University of Edinburgh

Andy Kerr, Member of the Fossil Fuel Working Group

“The desire for a low carbon world is not in dispute, yet the means by which we achieve that – through the financial impact and signal value of invested university funds – remains contentious. We do not believe that a blanket divestment policy from fossil fuel extraction companies is the way forward.”

18th June 2015 - Read Full Remarks

Wellcome Trust

Director Jeremy Farrar

“Despite the Guardian campaign, at Wellcome we’ve found it’s more constructive to actively engage with the companies in which we invest.”

25th March 2015 - Read Full Remarks

University of Edinburgh

Professor Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice Principal

“It is easy to portray recommendations like these as adversarial, ‘us’ the investors versus ‘them’ the companies. We don’t see it like that. We will engage with companies to discuss and – we hope – bring about the changes we want.”

12th May 2015 - Read Full Remarks

University of Leeds

Professor Timothy Devinney, University Leadership Chair

“Divestment does little more on this dimension other than to turn an inside voice that can demand that a company listen into an outside voice that a company can easily ignore.”

13th May 2015 - Read Full Remarks

Asset Owners Disclosure Project

Julian Poulter, CEO

“By simply divesting, you lessen and significantly diminish your influence, becoming an outsider looking in.”

1st June 2015 - Read Full Remarks

Financial Times

John Gapper, Associate Editor

“The movement is an elaborate charade, which is too inconsistent and impractical to succeed. Even the campaigners admit they are not entirely serious.”

15th April 2015 - Read Full Remarks

Kings College London

Mike Hulne, Professor of Climate & Culture

“Divestment might offer some symbolic successes while doing nothing to reduce the risks of climate change: protecting the people and places harmed by dangerous weather. Instead, it diverts campaigning and political attention away from the multiple causes of climate risk and removes potential allies from positions of shareholder influence.”

17th April 2015 - Read Full Remarks