DIVEST MCGILL SUBMITS 150 PAGES OF RESEARCH, RENEWS CALL FOR FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The full submission (coverletter and brief) is available here:
MONTREAL, QUEBEC (February 2nd, 2015) – On February 2nd, Divest McGill submitted a 2nd request calling for fossil fuel divestment to the McGill Board of Governors’ (BOG) Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR). At 1:30, several organizers met with BOG Chairperson Stuart “Kip” Cobbett and Secretary-General Stephen Strople to formally submit the petition and a 150 page brief covering multiple arguments for divestment from fossil fuel companies on the basis of the social injury that they cause. In the meeting, Divest McGill expressed a desire for more open communication from CAMSR, as well as more interactive engagement throughout the process. Members clarified that this would help ensure that CAMSR’s concerns could be thoroughly addressed by Divest McGill before their final recommendation is made.
Later in the day, around 30 organizers and supporters gathered in the McGill James Administration building right before the regular BOG meeting was scheduled to start. Participants were clad in symbolic orange “X”s to attended the BOG meeting and deliver an anniversary cake and card. “It’s our two year anniversary, and we’ve got a special gift for CAMSR; a very thorough 2nd brief and petition calling for divestment,” explained Divest McGill organizer Laura Cameron. “On February 1st, 2013, we submitted a brief calling for McGill to divest its endowment of fossil fuels. CAMSR rejected our original calls for divestment, claiming – without sufficient research of their own- that there was not enough evidence of social injury caused by the fossil fuel industry to merit divestment. But that wasn’t the end of our efforts.”
Organizers were clear that they viewed this initial rejection as a failure of both process and leadership by CAMSR, which led to McGill missing an opportunity to align its endowment with the community’s values. To prevent future failures, Divest McGill engaged with CAMSR to help improve their criteria and process for evaluating ethical investment concerns. This resubmission under their new Terms of Reference is seen as another chance for the university to act in the interests of its constituents by taking leadership on climate action, and joining the many peer institutions that have already divested.
Over the last year, Divest McGill members have worked hard to compile over 150 pages of research providing extensive evidence of the social injury and environmental damage caused by the fossil fuel industry, including examples of specific legal findings for some of the most damaging companies that McGill invests in. Not only does the report respond to the concerns expressed in CAMSRs original unilateral rejection of divestment, it also proactively addresses other considerations.
“With the rise of over 700 divestment campaigns across the globe, and tens of billions of dollars of divestment commitments already made, the movement has gained significant support and momentum, and there are good reasons for that,” organizer Kristen Perry commented. “The scientific evidence is irrefutable, the negative impact of the fossil fuel industry on society is easily observable, and the financial logic for divestment from these volatile and ultimately harmful investments is clearer than ever.”
Background: There is undeniable scientific evidence that we must leave 80% of our current fossil fuel reserves unburned in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. Despite this, fossil fuel companies have continued to extract and explore for new reserves, as well as work to undermine climate policies and action. Divest McGill advocates for fossil fuel divestment as a way to revoke the social license of the fossil fuel industry in order to bring about action on climate change, and is joined by over 700 campaigns worldwide. Since 2012, the group has built momentum on campus through open forums and creative actions, and has official support from all three major student unions at McGill University and many other on-campus groups, as well as over 1500 signatures from students, faculty, alumni and staff in the McGill community.
Kristen Perry – Divest McGill Organizer (undergraduate student) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Victor Frankel – Divest McGill Organizer (graduate student) – email@example.com