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UNSW academics pen open letter calling for divestment

The university divestment movement continues to gain strength as over a hundred academics and alumni of the University of New South Wales call on president and vice chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer to divest the university’s fossil fuel shareholdings.

The open letter, signed by 120 academics and eminent alumni, calls on the outgoing vice chancellor and the university council to divest direct and externally managed shareholdings in fossil fuel industries.

“Supporting further expansion of the fossil fuel industry is no longer an option for a progressive society focused on long term sustainability,” the letter states. “We believe that as a highly regarded educational and social institution, UNSW can and must take a leading role in the move away from fossil fuel use toward a sustainable and equitable future.”

In an article written for The Fifth Estate, UNSW SRC environment officer Nicholas Gurieff said UNSW had attempted to wash its hands of the divestment issue by stating it had no direct investments in fossil fuels and employed external fund management.

“UNSW has chosen to use external fund management as an opportunity to put its head in the sand and ignore the changing financial landscape,” Mr Gurieff said.

The open letter called on UNSW to show responsibility for both direct and indirect holdings.

“UNSW’s funds may be held in external portfolios, but we ultimately decide where our endowment is invested and determine the mandate of our fund managers. It is our responsibility to ensure this endowment is invested ethically and sustainably in truth, not only in the wording of our investment policy.”

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