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Elena Bignami, LSESU Environment and Ethics Officer, reports on the Town Hall meeting, called by the School, regarding LSE’s divestment from fossil fuels.
LSE’s investment policy is going through profound change this year. A Socially Responsible Investment Review (SRIR) group was set up over the summer to undertake an ethical review of all the investments of the School, with a specific focus on fossil fuels. The school is finally engaging in constructive discussions with student campaigners to bring divestment to the next level.
This Monday, October 5th 2015, a Town Hall meeting for staff and students was called to discuss divestment from fossil fuels, tobacco and armaments.
At the meeting, the School expressed its interest in divestment from indiscriminate arms, tobacco and fossil fuels. Commitments to fossil fuel divestment, however, remain controversial.
The panel clarified that LSE’s endowment is currently passively managed and, to date, demand is not high enough to create fossil free passive funds in the UK.
Everyone has recognised this difficulty but all are aware that low carbon indices have been established and fossil free funds are in rapid development. This provides realistic options for the LSE to take on divestment from fossil fuels within five years.
The School has expressed its interest to divest from tar sands and coal but has repeated that excluding the top 200 fossil fuel companies is legally and financially controversial. We believe that advocating tar sands and coal divestment on the grounds that it is more feasible right now does not exclude divesting from the top 200 companies in the short term.
Panellists frequently mentioned the small size of the LSE’s endowment fund which allows for limited possibilities. However, responding to discontent from the LSE Divest movement about this point, Craig Calhoun promised that: ‘the LSE is actively interested in securing the cooperation of other institutions in a common policy that would enable us to make more effective investments to reduce carbon’.
The School have stated that a statement on divestment will be made by the end of November.
Craig Calhoun stated that LSE recognises the importance of the UNFCCC climate talks and wants to actively lead the way to divestment: ‘I am hoping the statement that we make will go beyond symbolically to say we are going to think about this, and presenting that as in and of itself a divestment policy, to something that will go further than that’.
Overall, LSE got the message. Students demand divestment, the issue is important, and a leading institution like the LSE needs to act as a pioneer. It’s just a matter of time!
Thank you to everyone who came, to everyone who has campaigned so far and to everyone who is still working to make sure LSE responds to the overwhelming demand for ethical responsibility.
Yours,ElenaLSE Divest member, LSESU Environment and Ethics officer
What is an LSE Education? What should it be? What could it
As LSE SU Education Officer, those are the fundamental
questions I have to think about on a daily basis – and they are questions which
every single LSE student has an opinion on. When defining what the LSE should
deliver, it is vital that students are leading the conversation - that is the
point of the Re-Imagining Your Education series.
Continuing from last year, the Re-Imagining series will
give students the opportunity to lead discussions on the future direction of
the school, and the offer it should be making to its students. Throughout
Michaelmas Term, the Students Union will be hosting a number of consultation events
with students, asking them specifically what they want from an LSE Education
and giving them the chance to interact with senior academics and management
from within the school.
The first event of the term was What is an LSE
Education?, which took place on Thursday 8th October. Senior academics including Craig Calhoun, Director of
the LSE, put forward their vision of LSE, and their plans to ensure it meets students’ expectations.
The Re-Imagining series is your opportunity to shape the
debate of what LSE should be, to influence those making decisions within the
school and to lead the conversation of what an LSE Education should mean.
Without you input, it is impossible for the LSE to change – make sure you’re
part of it.
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