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NUS, NTU and SMU reaffirm commitment to climate action, following report highlighting links between fossil fuel industry and universities

NUS, NTU and SMU reaffirm commitment to climate action, following report highlighting links between fossil fuel industry and universities

The National University of Singapore's (NUS) campus. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) said environmental sustainability and social responsibility are “carefully” integrated in their investment management processes, and reaffirmed their commitment to taking climate action.

It comes after a coalition of students in Singapore released a 68-page report on Monday (Jan 17), detailing "extensive" links between the fossil fuel industry and local universities in areas including finance and management.

The report found that NUS and NTU both have endowment funds that are "indirectly" invested in fossil fuels. The other four universities contacted - SMU, SUTD, SIM Global Education and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) - did not disclose their exposure to fossil fuel-linked assets. 

For NUS, the report estimated that this sum was "at least S$59 million", based on a statement given by NUS Investment Office in March 2019 which said that the university's indirect investment in fossil fuels made up a "low single digit" percentage of its total endowment fund.

Responding to queries from CNA, NUS said it adopts a “responsible investment strategy” with a focus on ensuring that its investments generate income to support its activities while closely aligning to principles of environmental sustainability and social responsibility. 

It added that in 2021, it began a policy that incorporates environmental sustainability, and also stated its support in the transition to a greener and more sustainable environment.

“We will continue to encourage our fund managers to divest from polluting assets,” said an NUS spokesperson. 

Meanwhile, NTU said its investments enable the university to maintain a “steady stream of funds” to support its long-term strategic growth, while guarding against disruptions such as significantly increasing tuition fees during economic downturns.

It said its investment framework and strategic asset allocations are closely aligned with the university’s broader strategic vision. 

“The University’s investment fund does not specifically target the fossil fuel industry,” said an NTU spokesperson.

“Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations are carefully integrated into the investment management process to balance the University’s sustainability objectives with its fiscal health and financial outcomes for the portfolio and endowment fund over the long term.” 

In October last year, NTU announced plans to halve its carbon emissions by 2035, as part of a 15-year sustainability plan.

SMU said it is actively developing its approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues on a university wide basis, of which responsible investment is one important element. 

“We have initiated a process which will take us forward in important ways in the short, medium and long term,” said SMU. 

Source: CNA/vl(ac)
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