Many universities, including the University of Edinburgh, have long since taken the decision to divest from Tobbaco, in recognition of the contradiction between holding stocks in the Tobacco industry and doing research to tackle its health effects.
But why have these same universities, who engage in research on climate change – a health threat on a scale much larger than that of tobbaco – not applied the same logic to their investments in oil funds, Monbiot asks in this Guardian article.
Creative Commons: Normand Desjardins
Climate Change Refugees in Alaska – and Political Denial
There are some interesting articles and media here about climate change and its effects as they are already being felt in Alaska – including the need to evacuate whole villages. The other side of the story however is a politically-motivated ignorance of the causes of climate change by those in power. When will proper action be taken?
There are reports that oil and gas companies have been fixing prices in order to increase their profits. If true, this is further evidence both of these companies immorality (profiting from unsustainable activities) and a warning that these companies may not continue to stay profitable.
SFO considers criminal inquiry into alleged price fixing by oil firms | Law | The Guardian.
Another article on manipulation of prices
There’s a new trailer out for ‘Do the Math’, the new film by 350.org, the climate change campaign in the US which is spearheading the fossil free movement there. The message is simple, the maths obvious: we need to leave fossil fuel in the ground. And if oil and gas companies won’t take this step voluntarily, it’s our job to divest.
You can see the whole movie here (45 minutes long), and if you want to host a screening of the film, 350.org ask you to register it here so others can find it!
… this and other questions are discussed in Remus Valson’s Commercial Law Blog. As a lecturer of Social Corporate Responsibility, he was one of the great speakers of our Panel Discussion on April 3rd. Remus Vason highlighted the legal complexity that arises from the question of compatibility of the trustees’ duties and ethical investment – and the role of trust constitutions to clarify whether either of those decisive factors apply:
(a) factors relevant to long-term investment performance which might not have an immediate financial impact, including questions of sustainability or environmental and social impact;
(b) interests beyond the maximisation of financial return;
(c) generally prevailing ethical standards, and / or the ethical views of their beneficiaries, even where this may not be in the immediate financial interest of those beneficiaries.
If those apply (and we firmly believe our university has interests beyond the maximisation of financial return!) the trust can legally change its constitution to move towards a more ethical investment portfolio!
For more information check out Remus’ blog post !
Two days before the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere reached the crucial 400 parts per million benchmark, Oxford University opened a new geoscience laboratory named after its sponsor, Shell. This laboratory is also meant to reserach new sources of fossil fuel. Through such relationships universitites provide fossil fuel companies with both expertise and the social licence to operate.
What our society needs is more relationships between universities and sustainable technologies; not those relics of our dirty past, the fossil fuel companies. For an analytical discussion of the responsibility of univeristies, scolars and the role of students in this, check out this great article in the Guardian.