U.K. universities and charitable foundations are calling on their asset managers to stop supporting new fossil fuel projects.
In an open letter made public Monday, investors in a coalition with a collective £4.5 billion ($5.6 billion) in assets under management called on their respective asset managers to take several immediate steps.
It is the first time that universities have taken aim at the asset management industry on the issue of fossil fuel expansion, a spokesman said.
The letter references climate-specific expectations for the asset management industry that were declared during the COP26 climate summit in 2021 and endorsed by many asset owners. Two years later, "most global asset managers are still failing to meet these minimum climate standards," said a statement about the letter, which also criticizes asset managers for their "steadfast support" of fossil fuel expansion projects.
The investors want their asset managers to commit to three actions: ruling out new primary market investments linked to fossil fuel expansion; voting against directors of companies pursuing or facilitating new fossil fuel projects; and supporting all climate-related shareholder resolutions, particularly those that would limit involvement in new fossil fuel projects.
"We expect our fund managers to meet these minimum standards, and their ability to do so will form a part of our evaluation, monitoring and reselection processes going forward," said Sonita Alleyne, master of Jesus College Cambridge, which has £215 million in assets.
The coalition includes universities in Newcastle, Bristol, Sussex as well as Trinity College in Cambridge, which has £2 billion in assets. Foundation members include the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, York, with £269 million in assets, The Health Foundation, London, with £1.2 billion, and Jesuits in Britain with £658 million.
It is being coordinated by Students Organising for Sustainability with support from ShareAction.