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Open letter to the University of Auckland Foundations from Staff 


To the Boards of the University of Auckland Foundation and School of Medicine Foundation,

We write to you as a concerned group of Academic and Professional Staff of the University of Auckland, in your capacity as stewards of the University endowment. We call on you to divest from, and blacklist, the top 200 fossil fuel companies.1

Divesting from the fossil fuel industry helps to demonstrate that the University takes its role in combatting climate change seriously. This decision indicates that the University is willing to place its institutional weight unequivocally behind efforts aimed at limiting future global warming to well below two degrees, as called for in the 2015 Paris agreement.2

Divestment will draw public attention to the urgency of breaking with fossil fuel dependency in accordance with the University’s legislatively mandated role as critic and conscience of society. It is a step the universities of Victoria3 and Otago have already taken,4 and figures as just one achievable action in the gradual process of moving the University’s energy consumption away from the main driver of anthropogenic climate change.

Fossil fuel divestment will be a prudent financial move. Apart from the overriding moral impetus to withdraw the social license of the fossil fuel industry in the transition to a zero-carbon economy, financial analysis has shown that negatively screening for fossil fuel companies is unlikely to compromise, and may improve, risk-adjusted returns over the medium to long term.5

Analysis is showing that pension funds6 and Universities7 alike have received lower returns than they would have had they divested.

Moreover, there is a strong risk that many unburned fossil fuel reserves will turn into stranded assets, given that their current valuation is based on the presumption that they will in fact be burned.8

Your external investment consultants, Cambridge Associates Ltd, publicly commit in their 2014 report on fossil fuel divestment to facilitating all clients’ “portfolio decisions and investment choices that align with their unique objectives and missions”.9 Cambridge Associates will provide “information and advice on the spectrum of MRI strategies, be it screened portfolios or focused impact investments, with the aim of helping clients achieve their MRI goals.”10

Divestment will align the University Foundations’ investment practices with the University’s mission to be “a research-led, international university, recognised for […] its commitment to serve its local, national and international communities”.11 Moreover, it will give evidence-based expression to the University’s commitments to sustainability, in particular to its vision to be a place where “staff and students recognise their role as stewards of the resources they use, take action to minimise adverse impacts on the environment as a result of their activities, and protect and enhance the life supporting characteristics of our world”.12 The creation of a socially responsible investment policy which includes a fossil fuel divestment commitment will also align the University Foundations’ ethical investment practices with those of many of our peer universities in the Russell Group and Australian Group of 8.13

We note that even the Rockefeller Brothers, successors of an oil industry pioneer, initiated a divestment strategy and began divesting in 2014, to better align their fund’s endowment with its mission and Sustainable Development Programme goals.14

The University’s Strategic Plan provides a timely reminder that “despite the many challenges we face today, we cannot plunder the future in order to pay for the present”.15

In your position as board members of the University of Auckland Foundation and School of Medicine Foundation, we urge you to heed this warning and act responsibly by proactively seeking to divest from the fossil fuel industry. We look forward to your response.

 

Signed (240 total as of 20/06/17):

Faculty of Arts

  • Aimee Matiu, Tutor
  • Anne Pelzel, Professional Staff
  • Professor Andreas Neef
  • Anna Boswell, Lecturer
  • Professor Anne Salmond
  • Areta Helen, Lecturer
  • Professor Barry Reay
  • Bartek Goldmann, Tutor
  • Claire Meehan, Lecturer
  • Claudia Marquis, Senior Lecturer
  • Dan Hikuroa, Senior Lecturer
  • Daniel Patrick, Kaiwhakahaere Matua, Executive Director
  • Donna Gardiner, Honorary Senior Research Fellow
  • Emily Parke, Lecturer
  • Professor Erin G Carlston
  • Geoff Kemp, Senior Lecturer
  • Gerard Cotterell, Research Manager
  • Associate Professor Glenn Pettigrove
  • Associate Professor, Jennifer Frost
  • Jeremy Seligman, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Joanne Wilkes
  • Julie MacArthur, Senior Lecturer
  • Kathryn Lehman, Senior Lecturer
  • Kellie McNeill, Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Louise Humpage
  • Dr. Manuel Vallee
  • Professor Margaret Mutu
  • Matheson Russell, Senior Lecturer
  • Melissa Spencer, Research Advisor
  • Nicole Wallace, Professional Staff
  • Patrick Girard, Senior Lecturer
  • Paul Taillon, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Peter Davis
  • Roberta Wilson, Professional Staff
  • Rose Penn, Lecturer
  • Roy Lay-Yee, Senior Research Fellow
  • Ryan Jones, Senior Lecturer
  • Sophie Tomlinson, Senior Lecturer
  • Distinguished Professor Stephen Davies
  • Stephen Winter, Senior Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Steve Matthewman
  • Sue Abel, Senior Lecturer
  • Susanne Gomes, Professional Staff
  • Tiopiria McDowell, Lecturer
  • Professor Tom Bishop
  • Associate Professor Tracey McIntosh
  • Ursula Taylor, Academic Services Analyst
  • Vanya Kovach, Senior Tutor
  • Yvonne Hannah, Professional Staff

School of Business

  • Associate Professor Chellie Spiller
  • Daniel Tisch, Lecturer
  • Mark Bowler-Smith, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Natasha Hamilton-Hart
  • Professor Prithviraj Chattopadhyay
  • Rahel Wolfgramm, Senior Lecturer
  • Ross McDonald, Senior Lecturer

Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries

  • Clovis McEvoy, Tutor
  • Professor Dean Sutcliffe
  • Associate Professor, Eve de Castro-Robinson
  • John Coulter, Senior Lecturer

Faculty of Education & Social Work

  • Allen Bartley, Senior Lecturer
  • Andrew Thompson, Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Barbara Grant
  • Carole Adamson, Senior Lecturer
  • Diana Whiting, Programme Manager
  • Frances Kelly, Senior Lecturer
  • Frauke Meyer, Lecturer
  • Jan Wilson, Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Jay Marlowe
  • Kelsey Deane, Lecturer
  • Molly Mullen, Lecturer
  • Pat Bullen, Senior Lecturer
  • Phil Harington, Senior Lecturer
  • Ritesh Shah, Senior Lecturer
  • Sasha Matthewman, Senior Lecturer
  • Shira Eisenberg, Tutor

Faculty of Engineering

  • Heba Elsaidy, Tutor
  • Jenny Malmstrom, Lecturer
  • Kien Tat Wai, PhD Candidate
  • Mark Titchener, Senior Researcher
  • Matthew Russell, Lecturer
  • Stephane Bertin, Research Fellow

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

  • Professor Alistair Gunn
  • Professor Alistair Woodward
  • Amy Tong, Research Fellow
  • Associate Professor Andrew Jull
  • Associate Professor Andrew Kerr
  • Andrew MacCormick, Senior Lecturer
  • Anna Alrutz, PhD candidate
  • Anne Horne, Research fellow
  • Barbara Daly, Senior Lecturer
  • Beau Pontre, Lecturer
  • Professor Boyd Swinburn
  • Bridget Holland, Research assistant
  • Professor Chris Bullen
  • Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu
  • Deborah Somerville, Professional Teaching Fellow
  • Elana Curtis, Senior Lecturer
  • Elizabeth Wilson, Tutor
  • Ellen Glles, Clinician
  • Esther Willing, Lecturer
  • Ethan Lowry, PhD candidate
  • Fiona Langridge, Doctoral student
  • Graeme Finlay, Senior Lecturer
  • Jacquie Kidd, Senior Lecturer
  • Jamie Hosking, Senior Lecturer
  • Jane Alsweiler, Senior Lecturer
  • Jane Bradley, Coordinator
  • Janine Wiles, Senior Lecturer
  • Dr. Jin Russell
  • John P Egan, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor John Werry
  • John Windsor
  • Jordan McIntyre, Research Assistant
  • Judith McCool, Senior Lecturer
  • Karen Bishop, Research Fellow
  • Dr. Kate Parker
  • Katharine Wallis, Senior Lecturer
  • Lotte van den Heuij, PhD candidate
  • Maree Schollum, Team leader
  • Mariska Oakes-ter Bals, Clinical Trial Manager
  • Meagan Barclay, Research Fellow
  • Associate Professor Michael Hay
  • Associate Professor Natalie Walker
  • Nataly Martini, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Nick Holford
  • Paula Shields, Senior Research Technician
  • Pauline Gulliver, Research Fellow
  • Professor Peter Adams
  • Peter Beaver, Research Fellow
  • Peter Charlesworth, Professional Teaching Fellow
  • Phillipa Malpas, Senior Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Raina Elley
  • Associate Professor Roger Booth
  • Associate Professor Roger Marshall
  • Ruby Timmo, Professional Staff member
  • Professor Ruth Bonita
  • Rhys Jones, Senior Lecturer
  • Sarah Gerritsen, PhD candidate
  • Professor Shanthi Ameratunga
  • Shevan Silva, Postgraduate student
  • Siouxsie Wiles, Senior Lecturer
  • Stacey Porter, Advisor
  • Stephen Edgar, Professional Staff member
  • Ursula McIntyre, Professional Staff member
  • Vanessa Hawkins, Technician

Liggins Institute

  • Elizabeth McKenzie, Professional Research Fellow

International Office

  • Libby Passau, International Office

Auckland University Press

  • Katharina Bauer, Production Manager

Faculty of Science

  • Agnieszka Leszczynski, Lecturer
  • Alex Taylor, Senior Lecturer
  • Anna Santure, Lecturer
  • Annette Henderson, Senior Lecturer
  • Barry Hughes, Lecturer
  • Ben Nistor, Tutor
  • Bianca Jackson, Tutor
  • Bruce Burns, Senior Lecturer
  • Catherine Morgan, Research Fellow
  • Professor Clark Thomborson
  • Danny Osborne, Senior lecturer
  • David Adams, Manager
  • Dianca Whiting
  • Elizabeth Peterson, Senior Lecturer
  • Erica Finnie, Tutor
  • Gavin Lear, Senior Lecturer
  • Geoff Willmott, Senior Lecturer
  • Gilles Bellon, Senior Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Helena Cooper Thomas
  • Professor Ian Kirk
  • Jade Le Grice, Lecturer
  • James Brock, Tutor
  • Jessica McLay, Statistical Consultant
  • Jonathan Klawitter, PhD Student
  • Karren Maltseva, Manager
  • Ms. Kate Hannah
  • Luitgard Schwendenmann, Senior Lecturer
  • Maree Martinussen, PhD Student
  • Margaret Stanley, Senior Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Mark Costello
  • Marta Silvestre, Lecturer
  • Dr. Matthew Egbert
  • Associate Professor Michael Hautus
  • Associate Professor Nicola Gatson
  • Professor Nicola Gavey
  • Associate Professor Niki Harre
  • Octavia Calder-Dawe, Professional Teaching Fellow
  • Associate Professor Peter Wills
  • Pritika Narayan, Research Fellow
  • Associate Professor Quentin Atkinson
  • Associate Professor Rachel Fewster
  • Associate Professor Rainer Leonhardt
  • Honorary Academic Ranjini Swaminathan
  • Reece Roberts, Research Fellow
  • Richard Kingston, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Robert Armor
  • Professor Robin Kearns
  • Sandra Anderson, Senior Professional Staff
  • Dr. Santhiamoorthy Manoharan
  • Shiloh Groot, Lecturer
  • Simone Linz, Lecturer
  • Sue Cowie, Tutor
  • Associate Professor, Tony Lambert
  • Veema Lodhia, Professional Staff
  • Associate Professor Virginia Braun

Faculty of Law

  • An Hertogen, Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Claire Charters
  • Hanna Wilberg, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Jane Kelsey
  • Katherine Sanders, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Klaus Bosselmann
  • Professor Ron Paterson

Maclaurin Chaplaincy

  • Carolyn Kelly, Chaplain

OPCIO

  • Ms. Kirsten Brown

Libraries and Learning Services

  • Steffanie Werman

Services & Property Services

  • Arash Barzin, Services, Coordinator
  • Charlotte Blythe, Property Services, Projects
  • Christopher Muddiman, Chartered Professional Engineer
  • Morena Magalhaes, Service Division

 

Notes

[1] Fossil Free. (n.d.). The Top 200 Fossil Fuel Companies. Retrieved from http://gofossilfree.org/top-200/

[2] European Commission. (2016, Sept. 16). Paris Agreement. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/international/negotiations/paris/index_en.htm

[3] 350 Aotearoa. (2014, Nov. 3). Victoria University leads charge to fossil fuel divestment. Scoop News. Retrieved from http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1411/S00011/victoria-university-leads-charge-to-fossil-fuel-divestment.htm

[4] OtagoUniDivests. (2015, Jul. 15). Uni of Otago Foundation Trust Divests from Fossil Fuel. Scoop News. Retrieved from http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC1507/S00045/uni-of-otago-foundation-trust-divests-from-fossil-fuel.htm

[5] Richardson, D. (2014, Dec. 22). The Investment case for Fossil Fuel divestment. Institutional Investor. Retrieved from http://www.institutionalinvestor.com/blogarticle/3412313/blog/the-investment-case-for-fossil-fuel-divestment.html#/.V85JD5AkrIV. Also see MSCI ESG Research

(2013, Dec). Responding to the call for fossil-fuel free portfolios. [Research Issue Brief]. Retrieved from https://www.msci.com/resources/factsheets/MSCI_ESG_Research_FAQ_on_Fossil-Free_Investing.pdf

[6] Moodie, A. (2016, Mar. 4). New York Pension fund could have made billions by divesting from fossil fuels – report. Guardian Sustainable Business. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/mar/04/fossil-fuel-divestment-new-york-state-pension-fund-hurricane-sandy-ftse

[7] Toronto 350. (2015, Nov. 16). University of Toronto loses $550 million by not divesting from fossil fuels. CNW. Retrieved from http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/university-of-toronto-loses-550-million-by-not-divesting-from-fossil-fuels-550689871.html.

[8] Richardson, D. (2014, Dec. 22). The Investment case for Fossil Fuel divestment. Institutional Investor. Retrieved from http://www.institutionalinvestor.com/blogarticle/3412313/blog/the-investment-case-for-fossil-fuel-divestment.html#/.V85JD5AkrIV.

[9] Cambridge Associates. (2016). Fossil Fuel Divestment. Retrieved from:  http://www.cambridgeassociates.com/our-insights/research/fossil-fuel-divestment/

[10] Cambridge Associates. (2016). Cambridge Associates’ Perspective on the Ongoing Fossil Fuel Divestment Discussion. Retrieved from: http://www.cambridgeassociates.com/news/articles/cambridge-associates-perspective-on-the-ongoing-fossil-fuel-divestment-discussion/

[11] The University of Auckland. (2016). Be Part of our Future: Strategic Plan 2013 – 2020. Retrieved from https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/the-university/official-publications/strategic-plan.html

[12] The University of Auckland. (2016). Sustainability Policy. Retrieved from

https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/the-university/how-university-works/policy-and-administration/university-organisation-and-governance/sustainability/sustainability-policy.html

[13] Fossil Free UOA. (2016). Institutions with Partial or Full Divestment Commitments, as at 14 Sept 2016. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_LtYayG-cYxRmdFRHJudFZESGM/view?ts=57db2d75

[14] Rockefeller Brothers Fund. (2016). Divestment Statement. Retrieved from http://www.rbf.org/about/divestment

[15] The University of Auckland. (2016). Be Part of our Future: Strategic Plan 2013-2020. Retrieved from https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/the-university/official-publications/strategic-plan.html