Hundreds of Australian National University staff and students have used an open letter to call on vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt to divest from fossil fuel share holdings.
More than 450 academics, emeritus professors, general staff and PhD candidates signed the letter to the university council, described by organisers as one the biggest open letters on fossil fuel divestment in the world.
In 2014 ANU controversially sold about $16 million in shares in seven major resource companies, but the open letter calls for more than $45 million in remaining share holdings to be sold. Former federal treasurer Joe Hockey was among high profile critics of the decision.
The new open letter calls for any investments in fossil fuels to be investigated and disclosed, new investments to be blocked and a divestment of remaining shares to be completed in a managed way by 2021.
The letter reminds Professor Schmidt, a physicist and 2011 Nobel Laureate, that he described climate change as "the great challenge for humanity over the next 100 years" and called for global warming to be kept below 2 degrees.
"The Paris Agreement indicates the world is taking action to transition to a low carbon economy," the letter says. "As a global leader in research and education, the ANU has an obligation to lead global efforts to secure a safe climate for future generations."
Among the signatories are staff and academics in seven ANU schools and colleges. The letter coincides with a national campaign being launched across six other university campuses around Australia.
Fossil Free ANU spokeswoman arts/law student Zoe Neumayer said Professor Schmidt and the ANU Council could not ignore the letter's message.
"As Brian Schmidt faces up to his new job as the leader of our university, staff are telling him to face up to the fossil fuel companies that are causing climate change and holding back progress.
"That means divesting in full," she said.
Campaign group 350.org helped organise the open letter. A spokesman said it was the second largest open letter on the topic, following a similar push by staff and students at the University of California in 2015.
The group has previously targeted the ACT government and Commonwealth Bank over fossil fuel investments.
In a statement, Professor Schmidt said ANU remained committed to helping to lower carbon emissions and fight climate change.
He said the university wanted to lower reliance on fossil fuels.
"Decisions on investments are matters for the ANU Council, of which I am a member.
"The council has to balance both its fiduciary responsibilities to provide the funds for students and staff needs, such as superannuation payments and student scholarships, with that of socially responsible investments.
"It is a complex issue, and both the council and I welcome the views of staff and students. The letter will be tabled at council."
Professor Schmidt said ANU's investment policy already mandated a range of environmental, governance and social issues for any investments and the university was already involved in world-leading research to help the transition to clean and renewable sources of energy.