THE University of Dundee has announced a commitment to divest from fossil fuel companies within the next five years.

The university currently holds a “relatively small” level of investment in fossil fuels - around £1.7 million according to the most recent valuation – through its wider investment portfolio.

However, it now says it will focus on other areas of investment.

Professor David Maguire, interim principal and vice-chancellor of the university, said: “The University Strategy states that we will build upon our strong track record of improving environmental sustainability to minimise the negative impact we have on the world and its resources.

“We have a duty to play our part in responding to the climate emergency, and there needs to be actions as well as aspirations. With that in mind we are divesting from fossil fuel companies. We have listened to the staff and student voice on this issue, and they have rightly pressed us to take clear and timely action.

“Divestment is a process that will take a relatively short amount of time and we are already progressing with that.”

The move has been welcomed amid growing public distaste for companies not supporting climate action. Ric Lander, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Oil and gas companies are making a huge PR push to try and hoodwink us into believing that burning fossil fuels can carry on indefinitely. Investors like universities, egged on by diligent student activists, are starting to see the reality that fossil fuels and the companies that produce them must be replaced with renewable sources of energy.

“A just transition to a zero-carbon economy is what’s needed, and it’s wonderful that investors like the University of Dundee are committing their cash to making it happen.”