Student activists will keep pushing U of W to go fossil fuel-free for investments
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/06/2017 (2169 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A two-day sleepout and protest wasn’t enough to force the University of Winnipeg Board of Regents to divest completely from fossil fuels.
Students camped out on the school’s front lawn and protested outside the boardroom Monday, where the committee agreed on new sustainability policies, but didn’t sever its ties with fossil fuel companies.
The student group, Divest uWinnipeg, has been trying to get the university to invest solely in fossil fuel-free companies for the past three years.
At Monday’s meeting, the board deferred the group’s motion on a way to do that. The students had hoped to set up a committee with representatives from the board, the administration, students, community members, and indigenous leaders. This committee would work on creating a fossil fuel-free investment policy.
“They threw [our motion] out on a technicality,” said Mitchell Van Ineveld, a member of Divest uWinnipeg.
The board wouldn’t provide a spokesperson to the Free Press to explain the technicality. A communications officer for the university said the meeting was in-camera.
The student group learned the technicality involved their motion conflicting with the board’s new green fund.
The board explained the fund in a news release Monday.
“Created and approved by UWinnipeg’s Foundation, the responsible investing policy commits to establishing a renewable energy investment fund ie: a ‘green fund’ as a new option for investors,” it read.
The board’s new policy will also see environmental, social, and governance components factor into investing decisions.
When asked if these guidelines would screen out any of the 200 fossil fuel companies the global divest movement has identified as having large carbon emissions, the board said no, according to Van Ineveld.
More than 700 organizations worldwide have made the commitment to divest.
Van Ineveld called the University of Winnipeg “hypocritical” and “opportunistic.”
“It’s such a blatant contradiction. The university is trying to build this reputation on sustainabilty and indigenization and then not living up to any of those things when it actually matters,” he said.
For Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie, a student and former Vice-President of External Affairs on the University of Winnipeg, the board’s decision disregards the rights of indigenous people.
“As long as the University of Winnipeg is invested in these companies, it continues to uphold the fossil fuel industry, further deepening colonization,” she said in a news release.
Van Ineveld said roughly five per cent of the university’s $56.7 million endowment fund is invested in fossil fuel companies.
The problem, he says, is when people invest without thinking about how those corporations affect the community and the world.
Some of those effects are the consequences of climate change, including more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought, and more storms.
Members of Divest uWinnipeg will meet before determining their next steps, but their fight isn’t over.
“We’re not giving up. This campaign is not going away,” said Lavoie.