7 October 2016

The University of Queensland Senate last night resolved that it would not divest from its small involvement in fossil fuel company investments.

The decision followed consideration of a briefing paper from the Fossil Free UQ group, calling for the University to divest such investments.

UQ Chancellor Mr Peter N. Varghese AO this morning said the Senate accepted the magnitude of the threat posed by climate change.

"Our focus is on action, not gestures,” he said.

“Our commitment to ensuring sustainability is embedded in our teaching, research, engagement and operational activities.”

Fossil fuel company investment accounted for less than four per cent of the University’s $169.2 million managed investment portfolio, and UQ held no direct investments in fossil fuel companies.

UQ’s investment portfolio is managed by two fund managers, both signatories to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Initiative that provides a holistic approach to sustainable investment.

Mr Varghese said UQ had committed $3 million to a UQ Green Socially Responsible Investment fund to provide donors with an option for the investment of their contributions.

He said climate change research was a significant focus for UQ, with an estimated 200 staff and research students working in that field across five faculties and three institutes.

“Climate change features in undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the University and in our free massive open online courses available to anyone in the world who has access to a computer.”

Mr Varghese said UQ embedded a commitment to environmental sustainability across teaching, research, engagement and operational activities through the UQ Sustainability initiative, and continued to innovate towards change on a global scale, particularly through:

  • The Global Change Institute, which aims to address the impacts of climate change, technological innovation and population growth.

“UQ is a firm believer that the world should move towards a more energy-efficient mode of operation where an ever-increasing proportion of energy is produced without creating greenhouse gas emissions.

“This belief is demonstrated through our actions, and we look forward to continuing this good work alongside our staff, students and communities,” Mr Varghese said.

Mr Varghese’s full response to the Fossil Free UQ paper can be found here.

Media: UQ Corporate Relations Manager Carolyn Varley, c.varley@uq.edu.au, 0413 601 248.