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Somerville College announces full fossil fuel divestment

Somerville College, Oxford has announced that it is to fully divest from its remaining investments in fossil fuels by July 2021.

The College, which has an endowment fund of nearly £100m, will reinvest any remaining investments in fossil fuels into “green investments,” a statement on the College’s website said.

Somerville has already divested £400,000 worth of investments in coal, as well as a significant proportion of its holdings in oil and gas companies.

The announcement was welcomed by Oxford Climate Justice Campaign (OCJC), a University-wide campaign which aims for all Oxford colleges to fully divest their investments from the fossil fuel industry.

OCJC said: “Divesting is the greatest statement Somerville can make to show its solidarity with frontline communities and Indigenous Peoples who are suffering the worst of the climate crisis.”

In addition, it welcomed the move in that divestment is “now more consistent” with the College’s new refugee scholarship, announced last year, which is offered to students whose education has been disrupted by forced migration.

The news comes as two Cambridge colleges, Pembroke College and Trinity College, announced this week that they would be divesting their funds from fossil fuels, after campaigns from students at that University.

Trinity College, Cambridge said that its endowment will now have a dual mandate: “to continue delivering sustainable income growth and to commit to a significant, lasting and positive impact on improving its environmental footprint and achieving net zero before 2050.”

In April 2020, the University of Oxford announced its intention to divest its large endowment fund from fossil fuels, and ask its fund managers to seek net-zero plans across the University’s entire investment portfolio.

Other colleges to have announced divestment in recent years include St Hilda’s, Wadham, and Balliol, whilst St John’s, Oxford’s wealthiest college, was criticised by Direct Action for Divestment (DAD) Oxford for not delivering on promises it made to students last year regarding divestment, following a 5-day occupation of the College’s Front Quad in January 2020.

Somerville College has been contacted for comment.

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Max Spokes

Max (he/him) was formerly Environment News Editor at The Oxford Blue, and now writes a weekly Climate Column. He is in his second year studying History and Politics at Balliol.