La Trobe signals fossil fuel divestment

La Trobe University will phase out its investments in listed companies with a strong  involvement in fossil fuels.

The University Council recently endorsed a plan to fully divest from fossil-fuel related company investments over the next five years and commit to greater transparency on the carbon footprint of companies held in its investment portfolio.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the University was committed to getting the best possible return on its investments while also being true to its commitment to sustainability.

'At La Trobe we believe economic profitability and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive.

'We are committed to divesting from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies ranked by the carbon content of their fossil fuel reserves within five years.

'In addition, we will disclose the carbon exposure of our investments and provide annual reports of our divestment progress over the next five years.

'We will do this with clear and realistic targets to achieve our desired return on investment of CPI plus four per cent per annum.'

Chief Financial Officer Gary Seach said the University utilised pooled funds rather than self-managed funds as it had a relatively small investment portfolio compared to other larger higher education institutions.

'While the size of our funds does not allow La Trobe to have an individual mandate over any particular stock held within that pool, we are working proactively with new investment manager to reduce the carbon exposure of our investments and to identify or develop funds to ensure full divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies over time,' Mr Seach said.

'There is a growing list of like-minded investors who want make sustainable investments and we look forward to working with them and pooling our funds to help deliver on our commitment to a triple bottom line.'

The change was in response to suggestions by a group of student and staff passionate about reducing the impact of climate change and lobbied University leaders to change its investment strategy.

Media contact
Tim Mitchell
Media and Communications
T 03 9479 5246
M  0437 457780

Image: Flickr - Melbourne Streets Avant-garde