STATEMENT on Insufficient Response of Kip Cobbett

September 23rd, 2015

The initial response we received on Monday night from Kip Cobbett, Chair of the Board and Acting Chair of CAMSR, is a prime example of the delay, inaction, and vague commitments to deliberate that have characterized the CAMSR process to date.  It is precisely because of this endless deliberation and its failure to produce meaningful, concrete results that Divest McGill is taking action this week.

We requested Monday morning that Mr. Cobbett take a public stance on freezing fossil fuel investments and bring a motion to the Board to that effect. We believe a freeze is appropriate because it would rebuild trust (which has been eroded by a lack of collaboration and the failure to remediate important errors that were identified by Divest McGill and McGill Faculty and Librarians for Divestment). An immediate freeze in new fossil fuel investments for the duration of CAMSR’s deliberations is an appropriate and sober response to the financial, material, and reputational hazard, as well as to the deeply harmful practices of these companies. Additionally, the McGill community needs a clear signal–one that goes beyond mere words–that CAMSR is willing to take concrete action on the issue.

Although we have been in conversation for two and a half years, Mr. Cobbett stated that to take a stance now would be to “prejudge the issue.”  Seeing as Divest McGill asked for a freeze in fossil fuel investments in April and reiterated this ask two weeks ago in the lead up to Fossil Free Week, this is a topic CAMSR has had ample time to give the necessary consideration. In addition to the ample time and opportunities the committee has had to make a decision on a freeze, we have repeatedly offered ourselves as a resource to aid them in coming to decisions during this process. If CAMSR has not come to a decision by this point, it is not due to lack of information or time.

Throughout the week we have seen hundreds of community members come out to Community Square to join us in holding our university accountable to its responsibility to act boldly in the face of the climate crisis. We are on track to get more than 1,000 new petition signatures by the end of the week, and in just 3 nights, the size of our camp has increased from eight to seventeen tents as the McGill community learns more about the issue and demonstrates its support for divestment. Just this week, a new analysis revealed that divestment commitments have grown 50 fold in the last year alone, to represent more than $2.6 trillion of investments. CAMSR and the Board of Governors should understand that the pressure to do the right thing is only going to continue to mount, both on campus and off.

 

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[The above statement refers to this response from Kip Cobbett]

Dear Divest McGill,

Thank you for your latest communication of today, September 21, 2015. As was the case with the three recent responses to your previous e-mail messages (August 17, September 5 and September 9), the Secretary of CAMSR is responding on my behalf.

To reiterate my commitment stated in the response of September 11, your request for an immediate freeze on further fossil fuel investments will be discussed by CAMSR at its next meeting in October. CAMSR is the Committee mandated by the Board to deal with this request, and placing it on that Committee’s upcoming meeting agenda is the appropriate next step.

I cannot agree to your request of today that I take a public stance on freezing fossil investments, since, to do so, would be to prejudge the issue and would be unfair to the members of CAMSR whose views matter as much as mine.

I understand and share your concern about the delay involved in reaching a thoughtful decision on the questions of social injury and divestment. Effective governance, in part, means understanding what constitutes reasonable information for good governance and obtaining it. This is the reality facing CAMSR.

The current Divest McGill petition, developed over almost two years, is well thought through and researched. It was presented to CAMSR in February 2015.  It deserves a correspondingly well-thought-through response, and CAMSR should be allowed to complete its due diligence before reaching a decision.

Let me reassure you that your communications since August, including today’s, have been or will be circulated to all members of CAMSR prior to its October meeting.

Respectfully,

Kip Cobbett,

Chair, CAMSR, and

Chair, Board of Governors