Trinity divests from fossil fuels as part of global campaign

Trinity answers the call of Student Campaign ‘Fossil Free TCD’ and becomes first university in Ireland to pull investment in fossil fuels

Trinity College Dublin has decided to sell off all of its investments in companies whose primary business is in the extraction of fossil fuels. It is the first university on the island of Ireland to divest its oil, coal and gas investments. Trinity ‘s decision to divest was  in response to an impressive 15 month student campaign  ‘Fossil Free TCD’  and was made last November. They are joining a global announcement today in London [December 12th, 2016] along with 677 institutions and 58,399 individuals worldwide who have pledged to divest fossil fuels as part of the global ‘Divest-Invest’ campaign.  They include governments and investors from 77 countries including banks, pension funds, insurance companies and institutes in the health, education, philanthropy and faith sectors.  Together they represent $5 trillion in assets.

The World Health Organisation estimates that climate change is already claiming 150,000 lives per year.  One year ago today at the Paris COP21, world leaders agreed  that global warming must be limited to below 2 degrees if we are to prevent catastrophic climate change.  However, a recent study by Oil Change International found that we will already exceed 2 degrees of warming if all the carbon in the industry’s current operating fields and mines is burned.

Trinity students have joined students from all over the world in calling on universities and other institutions to stop funding the cause of climate change. Trinity has responded to their call.

 L-R: Colm Tong, Áine O'Gorman, Dr Patrick Prendergast, Deirdre Duff, Julie Fitzsimmons
L-R: Colm Tong, Áine O’Gorman, Dr Patrick Prendergast, Deirdre Duff, Julie Fitzsimmons

The Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Patrick Prendergast said: “This is a proud day for Trinity College Dublin, the first university in Ireland to sign up to fossil free divestment. Our decision puts the University at the forefront of sustainability and institutional fossil fuel divestment nationally.  Trinity intends to play our part in delivering the Paris Agreement. We aspire to be a leader in sustainability and climate solutions in every aspect of the College, not only in investments but in our research, and also in how the campus operates.   We made this decision following the impressive campaign of our own students ‘Fossil Free TCD’. We responded to their call and today is an historic day for all of us as we participate in this global announcement along with universities and multiple organisations from around the world.”

Trinity Students’ Union President, Kieran McNulty added: “We in the Students’ Union are delighted at the College’s decision to divest from fossil fuels. This was a student-led campaign I hope this spurs on other universities and companies in Ireland to divest. Never doubt the power of young people and students to make change.”

Fossil Free TCD spokesperson, Deirdre Duff, concluded:  “By joining the international divestment movement Trinity is sending a message that the fossil fuel era is ending. The transition to renewable energy must be accelerated rapidly if we are to safeguard the future of human civilisation. If the fossil fuel industry follows its business plan, vast areas of our planet will become uninhabitable. The share price of fossil fuel companies assumes that their proven fossil fuel reserves will be consumed. However the industry has around five times more carbon in these reserves than can be burned if warming is to be limited to 2 degrees as agreed by the world’s governments.   Therefore leading financial experts have highlighted the risks of fossil fuel resources becoming ‘stranded assets’, representing a dangerous ‘carbon bubble’.  So a decision to divest makes good financial sense.”

Trinity now plans to sell up to €6 million of investments in oil companies.  Trinity’s endowment fund dates back to more than 200 years. It is supported by legacies from donors. Capital is used to generate an annual return which is used to finance the academic and student support needs of the University.

About Divest-Invest

Divest-Invest is a global coalition that responds to climate change by encouraging people, groups and institutions to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions: www.divestinvest.org for more information.