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Trinity’s engagement with banks shares Green Gown Award

Trinity College, alongside Jesus College and the University of Cambridge, shared a 2022 Green Gown Award in the Money for Good category for effective engagement with the banking sector on climate finance.

Together, they were leading participants in efforts of the Responsible Investment Network–Universities (RINU) to focus engagement on persuading banks to stop financing companies that continue to build new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Their engagement helped a global bank include methane emissions in its methodology, and to report on absolute emissions for the first time.

Trinity, Jesus and the University, alongside other institutions, also persuaded HSBC to commit to phasing out their financing of the fossil fuel industry on a timeline consistent with the UN goal to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to update oil, gas and coal policies by the end of 2022.

Green Gown judges were impressed with the quality of the Collegiate Cambridge initiative, calling it ‘innovative’ and ‘sector-changing’. ‘This initiative is leading the way and we cannot wait to see the change they create using money for good,’ the judges said.

Romane Thomas, Trinity’s Investment and Sustainability Officer, said:

Our engagement with HSBC and other banks, including through the activities of the student-led Trinity Responsible Investment Society, has shown how influential networks can be in accelerating the energy transition, especially when communicating expectations both as shareholders and clients.

Anthony Odgers, Chief Financial Officer of the University of Cambridge, said:

Banks have a key role to play in the energy transition. Our historic relationship with major banks, combined with our academic expertise, puts the University of Cambridge in a strong position to influence finance towards net zero goals. This award will help us share this approach with other institutions.

Green Gown Awards are made by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), an alliance for sustainability leadership in education with more than 300 member institutions in the Further and Higher Education sector of the UK and Ireland.

Trinity’s engagement with companies in which it invests is one aspect of its drive towards a more sustainable endowment.

The endowment enables the core College mission of excellence in research, teaching and learning, as well as broad philanthropic support of Collegiate Cambridge.

In February 2021 Trinity committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions in its endowment before 2050. The move included divestment from all fossil fuel in public equities, since achieved, and the development a bespoke global equity index strategy, with Legal & General Investment Management.

The Senior Bursar’s Office has integrated environmental sustainability considerations into all decision and management processes.

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