Standard letter for VCs, Finance Officers to send to USS

USS should be listening to Universities as to how they determine their investment strategy. Vice Chancellors, Principals and Finance Officers all need to be assured that their staff can be confident of pension returns long into the future. However the Climate Emergency and USS’s policy of continuing to invest in companies that are exploring and exploiting new fossil fuel resources threatens this. European pension funds – for example the Dutch ABP have committed to divesting from fossil fuels – and we believe USS urgently need to take the same step. Below is a standard letter that could be sent to USS by senior university staff.

Dear Chair of Trustees

As Vice Chancellor of xxxxxx University I write to express my concerns about USS’s continued investment in fossil fuel companies, and the funding of new coal, oil, and gas production through corporate bonds and banks which market corporate bonds.  The International Panel on Climate Change is clear that, for the serious risks of climate change to be addressed, there must be no new development of coal, oil and gas reserves whatsoever.  Unless we respond rapidly to these risks, we will face global social, environmental and economic chaos.

USS is taking some steps to address climate change, outlined in its Task Force on Climate Related Disclosures Report 2022, which has set the target of ‘Net Zero 2050’. This is too little, too late. 

There is debate as to whether divestment or active ‘engagement’ with fossil fuel companies is the more effective strategy to achieve rapid decarbonisation. Given the manifest failure of the latter course, our university has committed to divestment. Divestment is also supported by the same action being taken by several large European pension funds (for example ABP

USS should take the same action, or provide the members and the employers with very clear evidence as to why it will not. By continuing to invest members’ funds in companies such as Shell, whose plans for net zero 2050 are considered by many to be close to greenwashing, USS is risking both reputational and financial damage.

One thought on “Standard letter for VCs, Finance Officers to send to USS

  1. Thank you very nuch for creating this. I very much hope that Universities will send this to the USS. Our future and our children’s futures depend upon strategic changes like this.
    Unfortunately, when I wrote to the USS about this recently, I did not receive a reply.


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