The University of Edinburgh has stopped all investments in fossil fuel companies, it has announced.

In 2018, the university said it hoped to complete its divestment from fossil fuels within three years as part of an effort to become carbon neutral by 2040.

On Thursday, the university said it had now removed direct and pooled investments in companies that are involved in the extraction and production of fossil fuels, such as coal, tar sands, oil and gas.

The action was taken as part of a range of activities Edinburgh University is undertaking to help tackle the climate crisis.

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The university’s research and teaching will continue to engage with the fossil fuel industry to aid the transition to a low carbon economy.

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University principal and vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson said: “As a university with a global reputation for researching climate change and supporting policymakers and communities worldwide to mitigate and adapt to its impacts, it is important that our own investments and operational decisions act on that knowledge.

“By shifting our investments out of fossil fuels and into organisations and funds that positively impact society and the environment, we’re playing our part in fostering a lower-carbon, healthier, more sustainable and equitable future.”

Listening to the voices of students was a significant feature of the university’s approach to divestment. The fossil fuel review group which provided the recommendations to the investment committee included student representatives.

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Edinburgh University has invested more than £170 million in low carbon technology, climate-related research and businesses that directly benefit the environment since 2010.

It was the first university in Europe to become a member of the Principles for Responsible Investment, a UN-backed initiative which aims to make the global financial system more sustainable, earning “straight As” in the past two years for excellence in responsible investment.

Director of social responsibility and sustainability Dave Gorman said: “The climate crisis continues to be one of the most pressing issues facing humanity.

“By divesting from fossil fuels and choosing to reinvest in more socially and environmentally beneficial causes, the university is proactively supporting society’s transition to clean energy, a smarter use of resources and a more inclusive economy.

“We hope our actions inspire other organisations to increase their climate ambition in the lead-up to the UK hosting Cop26.

“We are now considering what further action we can take to move beyond divestment and contribute to a zero carbon future.”