On Tuesday morning student groups from a coalition of over 30 universities, colleges, and high schools across Canada released an open letter to their educational institutions as part of the Divest Canada Coalition. The coalition, including students from the University of Waterloo, is calling on administrators to divest fully from fossil fuels by 2025.
“There are over 90 universities in Canada and yet only three have committed to fossil fuel divestment. As a country that claims to be a climate leader, we have fallen far behind and it’s time for us to catch up. Students are demanding action and by working together we just got a whole lot more powerful” says Sophie Price, founder of the coalition and a student at Carleton University.
Fossil fuel divestment is the removal of all investments from companies that generate revenue from the extraction, transport, or processing of oil, gas, and coal. This open letter comes on the heels of international campaigns to divest institutions from fossil fuels, as well as the Fridays For Future movement inspired by the strikes of Greta Thunberg.
In the face of the climate crisis, the students are demanding that their schools step up to protect their futures. The idea is that by encouraging their schools to divest, they will remove social license from the fossil fuel industry, contribute to Canada’s reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions, and help their schools make a prudent financial choice.
“The world is facing an unprecedented challenge in the form of climate change. We want our innovative university to divest and be on the right side of history – the alternative is banking on the destruction of our planet,” says Lesley Johnston (photo), a student at the University of Waterloo.
The open letter has been uploaded to divestcanada.ca, where signatures will be collected from organizations and individuals across the country. If administrators fail to heed the call for full divestment, students are threatening a campaign of direct action.
“Incremental and indecisive actions are not enough; Fossil Free UW will continue to hold the University accountable until the Board votes in favour of full divestment,” says Petra Duff, a University of Waterloo student and member of WUSA club Fossil Free UW. “We can’t afford to take baby steps.”
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