NUIG president backs divestment of university’s €3.4m fossil fuel shares

Galway move follows Trinity College Dublin commitment

Jimmy McGovern, NUIG Students’ Union president; Hazel Wolstenholme, CCAFS; Dr Jim Browne, NUIG president; Colm Duffy, CCAFS auditor; Aoife Kervic, CCAFS;  Brendan Hallahan, CCAFS

Jimmy McGovern, NUIG Students’ Union president; Hazel Wolstenholme, CCAFS; Dr Jim Browne, NUIG president; Colm Duffy, CCAFS auditor; Aoife Kervic, CCAFS; Brendan Hallahan, CCAFS

 

Students at NUI Galway (NUIG) have welcomed a commitment by the university’s president, Dr Jim Browne, to back divestment of €3.4 million worth of fossil fuel shares held by the college.

Gazprom and Statoil are among the companies in which the university has invested, according to a report submitted to Dr Browne by student members of the NUIG climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS) society.

A petition with more than 1,000 signatures last month called on the university to dispose of the shares. Dr Browne welcomed the report and acknowledged that divestment was “in line with the values held by NUIG with regard to sustainability”. He told CCAFS society members, who had run a “Fossil Free Campaign”, that he had spoken to a number of staff and students on the issue and felt there was a “real appetite” for divestment.

A motion to this effect will be tabled for NUIG’s management board early in 2017, seeking to withdraw investment in fossil fuel companies and adopting an ethical investment policy.

Welcoming the president’s commitment, CCAFS society auditor Colm Duffy said that it still had to be signed off by university management.

“We anticipate that Dr Browne’s commitment will give support to this move,”he said.

If adopted by the college, NUIG will become the second Irish university with shares in fossil fuels to divest of them.

Last month, Trinity College confirmed it was to sell up to €6 million of investments in oil and gas companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron, after its €180 million endowment fund voted to dump stocks whose primary business involved fossil fuel extraction.