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Oxbridge universities ‘urged to end fossil fuel investments’

Hundreds of leading Oxbridge academics have reportedly called on the universities to clean up their investment programmes by moving away from fossil fuels research.

The signatories, said to include some of the country’s most influential figures and finest scientific minds, want Oxford and Cambridge universities to redefine the way their multi-billion pound endowment funds are invested to reflect growing environmental, social and financial pressures.

It is hoped the British institutions’ standing as global leaders in academic research will encourage a shift in attitudes towards greener policies in establishments around the globe.

A total of 250 academics from Cambridge and around 50 from Oxford signed a joint statement organised by student group Positive Investment Cambridge that has been seen by The Independent.

Ellen Quigley, a Cambridge PhD student who worked with the campaign, explained the idea was to create a “template” for the “smartest, most ethical investment strategy there has ever been”.

She said: “We think that if that is developed at Oxbridge it would be taken very seriously on the global stage, and at least parts of it could end up being implemented by other funds the world over.”

The campaign has been supported by Lord Deben, chairman of the independent Committee on Climate Change, who described the “tremendously important” Oxbridge research programmes as “crucial” to tackling global warming.

He said: “This open letter, signed by so many esteemed fellows, is a sure sign that there is widespread support for positive investment among Oxbridge academics.

“It is clear that, at the faculty level and among the student body alike, there is significant concern over climate change and other great ethical issues of our time – and positive investment appears to be viewed as at least part of the potential solution to the growing crises of the modern age.”

The University of Cambridge told the newspaper it sought to invest responsibly and had commissioned a “thorough and unique” review into all its investment decisions, which will report to the University Council.

Oxford University was yet to respond.