SRIRC's first Statement on the fossil fuel divestment campaign

The Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee (SRIRC) is responsible for considering representations concerning the Socially Responsible Investment Policy and proposals related to the implementation of the Policy submitted to it from certain specified bodies within the University, and making recommendations to Council as appropriate[1]. The SRIRC is today making its first statement regarding representations made by OUSU regarding the University's investments in fossil fuel related companies. 

The SRIRC received a first representation from Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) at its meeting on 28 November 2013 requesting that consideration be given to financial transactions involving organisations in the fossil fuel industry. The SRIRC sought clarification from OUSU on the scope of its resolution and the definition and scope of what OUSU meant by ‘the fossil fuel industry’. The SRIRC subsequently received a second OUSU representation clarifying its definition of ‘fossil fuel companies’ (as set out in the penultimate paragraph below) and asking the University to consider divestment from all fossil fuel investments held by Oxford University Endowment Management (OUem) on behalf of Oxford University. OUSU’s resolution can be viewed here OUSU Resolution (198kb) .

The SRIRC welcomes this engagement.  We acknowledge the significance and importance of the broad issue of climate change and are grateful to OUSU for formally raising this issue with the SRIRC.

The SRIRC is responsible for forming an opinion on the question of socially responsible investment that the divestment resolution raises and for advising Council accordingly. At its meeting on 6 March 2014, the SRIRC began detailed discussions on this subject.  It acknowledged that fossil fuel divestment is a broad issue involving many different University departments and activities, and that any engagement on this issue will need to consider a range of stakeholders across the whole of the University.  These include a number of Council’s committees, the Divisional Boards, Colleges, benefactors, staff and students (past, present and future) among others. It is recognised that this is a complex and multifaceted issue which requires the collection of evidence and opinions, and time for reflection and informed debate.

Therefore, and in light of the growing global debate and given the University's broad research engagement on the subject, the SRIRC has decided to canvass the opinions of stakeholders.  We are therefore requesting evidence and opinions from relevant bodies in the collegiate University, and through the publication of this statement invite interested parties to submit evidence or views that might inform the committee’s consideration of the question of possible divestment from companies 'that participate in exploration for and/or extraction of fossil fuel reserves' as per the OUSU representation.  We are also interested in evidence or views on whether there are alternative ways in which the University should engage in the debate about climate change.  The SRIRC will review submissions at its next meeting on 2 July 2014, and will publish a summary of the views received on its website, ensuring that such views are given proper consideration in the eventual recommendation that is made to Council.

Interested parties should send their submissions to fossilfuelsconsultation@admin.ox.ac.uk. The deadline for submissions is 23 June 2014.



[1] Council Regulations 15 of 2002, available at http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/statutes/regulations/520-122bb.shtml.

Representations concerning the Policy and proposals related to the implementation of the Policy may be submitted to the committee by the following bodies: (1) Council, the Investment Committee or any other committee reporting directly to Council; (2) by 20 or more members of Congregation; and (3) by a majority resolution of the Council of the Oxford University Student Union.