Divestment movements around the world have been pushing financial institutions to move capital from corporations engaged in fossil-fuel extraction, refining, and transportation and to increase investment in renewable energy production and other sectors of a new post-carbon economy. They have been demanding that public institutions such as universities divest their endowment funds and pension plans from fossil-fuel-sector corporations, and that they insist that banks and investment funds in which they hold shares do the same.
In Canada, there are active divestment movements at many universities, including Concordia, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, University of Toronto, University of Northern British Columbia, McGill University, Queen’s, and York University.
- The University of Laval was the first university in Canada to announce that it was divesting from fossil fuels, in February 2017.
- In November 2019, Concordia University in Montreal announced that it would fully divest from fossil fuels by 2025.
- At the University of Toronto, a coalition of campus based and city-based organizations is pushing the university’s governance bodies to divest. For more information about divestment at UToronto click here.
- In November 2019 the Board of Governors at University of British Columbia voted to transfer $380 million from part of its endowment to a “sustainable” fund, and students and faculty at UBC continue to push for the complete divestment of the university’s $2 billion endowment fund from fossil fuel investments. In January 2020, the Board of Governors agreed to fully divest $1.7 billion from fossil fuel investments.
- At the University of Victoria, 77 per cent of the members of the Faculty Association voted in 2019 to support the university’s divestment from fossil fuels. They argued that such a move is consistent with the university’s commitments to “promoting sustainable futures” and “fostering respect and reconciliation” with First Nations. A large majority of UVic faculty have also voted to divest their pension fund from fossil fuels. A description of the first leg of the divestment campaign at UVic is here: https://www.martlet.ca/divest-uvic-its-time-to-break-up-with-fossil-fuels/. For more information about DivestUVic click here.
- Divest McGill has been pushing for divestment since 2012 and vows to continue until it succeeds in persuading the university’s governance bodies to divest from all investments in the fossil fuel industry.
- Divest UNBC calls on the Board of Governors at the University of Northern British Columbia to divest from fossil fuels by 2025.
- Groups at York University have been pushing for divestment from fossil fuels since at least 2016. Fossil Free York published a document making the case for divestment in July 2016. A cross-constituency advisory committee on responsible investment voted in March 2017 to recommend university divestment from fossil fuel companies. This move was supported by the York Federation of Students and by the York University Faculty Association. A revived climate action group at York, the YUFA Climate Emergency Committee, is calling upon the university’s Senate to adopt climate change as “the grand challenge” of the university’s Academic Plan for 2020-2025.