The Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) applauds the University of Sydney’s push to decarbonise its portfolio, but urges the higher education institution to be more transparent and show leadership to its peers.

“This is encouraging but as AODP found last month, media releases don’t always lead to concrete action and we encourage USyd to provide full disclosure so that stakeholders can measure progress and not promises,” said Dr John Hewson, Chair of the AODP.

At the time of the Global Universities Index (GUI) launch in January, the AODP awarded USyd a D-rating, indicating poor climate investment risk management. USyd also received limited points for their proxy voting policy.

“The new risk-based approach to climate change from USyd is a more professional approach than simple divestment and this example must now be followed by those laggards propping up the AODP Global Universities Index,” Dr Hewson said.

“The challenge now is for USyd to provide regular updates on implementation and to be honest with stakeholders about the challenges faced in order that other universities can learn from their experience.”

“Critically, the University must now be completely transparent with stakeholders over its proxy voting intentions for the companies that it owns. We assume that USyd holds shares in Exxon as the world’s second biggest company and we look to their votes at the Exxon AGM in May as a starting point for a new wave of better active ownership.”

“Failure for USyd to indicate a vote against the Exxon board on this issue would surely mean they back fossil fuel companies to continue to dig for unburnable carbon reserves” Dr Hewson added.

The 2014-15 Global Universities Index can be accessed at: www.aodproject.net