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US students demand divestment from fossil fuels

01 December 2014

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Students in Washington took part in the largest on-campus demonstration in the history of the divestment movement to demand that administrators divest from fossil fuels.

Three hundred students from American University took to the streets three days before the American University Board of Trustees is due to vote on a resolution to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

The university's financial consulting firm, Cambridge Associates, in response to inquiries from several outside groups, this week re-articulated its standing commitment to institutions interested in building environmentally sensitive investment portfolios.
Cambridge, which advises or provides research to major university endowments, said it is continuing to expand its Mission-Related Investing databases; encouraging investment managers to create more environmentally sensitive products, including fossil-fuel free funds; and is providing institutions the names investment managers that are able to create fossil-free portfolios and those that have an investment screening process that is environmentally friendly.

Such initiatives may open up better communication between investor demand and asset manager supply.

Since the start of the fossil fuel divestment fight in 2012, university administrators across the country have deflected student calls for divestment by claiming their investment consultants do not recommend it.

Seattle's pension fund was advised against divesting its fossil fuel holdings by financial consulting firm NEPC.

"Investment consultants have for too long been an invisible influencer in the divestment fight, posing a significant barrier to institutions seeking a solution for carbon risk," said Brett Fleishman, Senior Analyst at 350.org.

"But Cambridge Associates' commitments will blast open the investable universe, making it easier for schools and major institutions to divest from the fossil fuel industry."

?First published 21.11.2014

Lindsay.sharman@wilmington.co.uk

Editor's Correction:

When this article was originally published it incorrectly insinuated that Cambridge Associates announced a pathway to fossil free investing and recently expanded its MRI database. The reality is that Cambridge did not issue any announcement, and their work expanding their MRI database and helping clients who wish to create environmentally sensitive portfolios goes back years. We apologise for publishing the misleading information.