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The University of Edinburgh "will continue its commitment to carbon capture and storage (CCS) research" as it today announced its decision to change its fossil fuel investment policy.

After an extensive consultation with staff and students, the university has decided that, rather than follow a "no change" policy or simply pull out of investments, it will use its research activities and responsible investment to work with companies to reduce their carbon emissions.

The university said that it will "seek to change the behaviour of the companies in which it invests", asking for reports on emissions and benchmarking against best performance in their respective sector. There will be a priority on low or zero-carbon investments, the university said, and it will continue its commitment to CCS research, focusing on new ways of securing energy from fossil fuels without the harmful emissions that cause climate change.

Prof Stuart Haszeldine, Director of Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage, based at the University of Edinburgh, said:

Carbon Capture and Storage is a vital part of the global transition from unacceptable fossil fuel emissions to the clean use of fossil fuels and development of near-zero-carbon electricity. CCS is the only known method to decarbonise large process and chemical industries, and will reduce the UK costs of a low-carbon economy from 2030 onwards. The UK is at the forefront of a global effort, and with SCCS, Edinburgh has established a key role internationally in research innovation, demonstration and education.

In its full statement, the university highlighted a specific focus on companies involved in the extraction of the highest carbon-emitting fossil fuels, namely, coal and tar sands. It stated its intention to withdraw from such investments "if realistic alternative sources of energy are available" and if the companies involved do not invest in technologies that help address the effects of carbon emissions and climate change.

Prof Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice Principal, said:

The decision outlines our commitment to use the leverage of our investments to bring about change that reduces carbon emissions in the fossil fuels and other sectors, and to press further with our world-leading research activities that actively contribute to the solution of problems arising from fossil fuel emissions and the identification of alternative technologies.

Read the university's full statement

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