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Birkbeck joins coalition of UK universities seeking new financial products that do not fund new fossil fuel projects

The Cambridge University led coalition includes universities of Edinburgh, Leeds, Oxford, and University College London.

A landscape image of buildings in London's financial district with towering glass fronted skyscrapers, including the HSBC building and others.

Birkbeck, University of London, has joined a coalition of over 60 leading UK higher education institutions seeking to use their combined might to encourage banks and asset managers to develop more environmentally friendly types of deposit accounts and money market funds. 

The Cambridge University-led group which, alongside Birkbeck, includes the universities of Edinburgh, Leeds, Oxford, University College London, and the London School of Economics, have sent financial institutions a formal request for proposals for new cash products that do not contribute to the financing of fossil fuel expansion. Together, the institutions in the coalition are responsible for billions of pounds worth of cash and investments. 

The request for proposals aims to redirect financial investment to the development of renewable energy sources and speed up the transition away from new oil, coal, and gas projects. It sets out a tougher standard on climate issues than is commonly applied. As well as asking for a “green” stock and bond portfolio, it asks that financial institutions align at group level with the International Energy Agency’s scenario in which global emissions hit net zero by 2050, which includes no new financing of fossil fuel supply beyond that already committed in 2021. 

Professor Sally Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor of Birkbeck said: “We want our money to be used in ways that minimise negative impacts on the environment, help to stem global warming, and preserve the planet for current and future generations. Birkbeck has a small budget in comparison with some UK universities, so joining forces with others to call on banks and other financial institutions for a request for proposals is an excellent way for us to influence the products offered by them and achieve this aim.” 

As well as seeking out financial products that do not contribute to fossil fuel expansion, Birkbeck has recently established teams to develop its environment and sustainability course offer and boost its research in this area. 

Last autumn, it launched a three-year partnership with Legal and General to expand and develop its teaching and research in environmental sustainability. The collaboration aims to draw on Legal and General’s financial support and corporate sector expertise and Birkbeck’s academic research and teaching experience to equip thousands of students with practical skills and knowledge to help build a more sustainable future.  

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