The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has agreed to end all its investments in fossil fuels by the end of 2022.
The decision means the Society will sell any investments that it has in companies that extract fossil fuels, such as coal, gas, oil and tar sands.
Historically, the Society used a process of responsible investing, in which investors encourage companies to improve principles of ‘environmental, social, and governance’ (ESG) and develop more sustainable business practices.
However, in a meeting on 17 November 2021, the RPS Assembly voted to move to active divestment. Commenting on its previous process in a statement issued after the meeting, the RPS said: “This influence was not great enough to balance out the negative impacts of climate change,” adding that the amendment to its investment strategy was agreed “as part of the RPS’s continued drive to become an environmentally responsible organisation”.
At the meeting, Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, said: “The climate emergency is just that: an emergency. In an emergency you respond as swiftly as you can, and that is what this is designed to reflect.”
Meanwhile Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, described the decision as “a historic moment for [the RPS]”.
In the statement issued after the meeting, Anderson said that the Society was “committed to tackling the climate and ecological emergency both as an organisation and working with colleagues across the pharmacy profession”.
“But pharmacy can’t act alone. We’re calling on the pharmaceutical industry, governments across GB and other stakeholders to work with us to make the changes that are needed to tackle the climate emergency.”
The RPS ‘2020 Annual report: Financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2020‘, published in May 2021, shows that its investment portfolio was valued at £7.9m in the year ending 31 December 2020.
The decision to divest from fossil fuels forms part of the Society’s ‘Declaration of climate and ecological emergency‘, published in September 2021.
Speaking to the The Pharmaceutical Journal in October 2021, Bennett said the RPS was “keen to engage with the broader membership” on climate change and sustainability, and issued an open invitation to RPS members to get in touch with opinions and ideas.