Humans cannot burn all the fossil fuel reserves that energy companies are planning to while still staying below the critical 1.5°C above pre-industrial mean temperatures. The simplicity of this fact belies the complexity that must be engaged to reorient economies and societies globally to make real reductions in emissions. Fossil Free UW is challenging the University of Waterloo community to act to protect our common future.
Did you know that the University of Waterloo is currently investing our money in companies that are contributing to climate change?
Currently, through pension funds and student endowments, the University of Waterloo is investing $44.8 million into the fossil fuel sector. Approximately half of these holdings are invested in Carbon Underground 200 listed companies, including Canadian National Resources Ltd., CNOOC, and Suncor, which are not only known heavy CO2 emitters, but some of which have participated in decades-long climate-denial campaigns. Moreover, some of these companies are responsible for environmental destruction on a massive scale, human rights violations, and corrupt practices. There are obvious environmental and ethical reasons why our University, the Canadian lead for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network, should not be investing in these firms.
Therefore, we have written to President Hamdullahpur and members of the University of Waterloo’s Board of Governors with this request:
Dear President Hamdullahpur and Members of the Board:
On behalf of students, staff, and faculty from across the University of Waterloo, we write to you to submit two documents with associated action requests for your consideration at the October 27th Board of Governors meeting.
The first document is a letter from faculty and staff calling on the Board of Governors to divest from fossil fuels and invest in a climate safe future. To date, this letter has been signed by over 250 faculty and staff members from across the university—we will submit the final list of signatories to you on October 21 .
The faculty and staff who have signed this letter are requesting that the Board of Governors immediately begin a process for 1) divesting the University’s endowment and pension plans completely from fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal), and associated infrastructure; and 2) reinvesting in socially responsible, low-carbon assets that safeguard investments and— more importantly—our collective future.
The second document takes that letter a step further. It is the executive summary of a policy written by students entitled University of Waterloo Carbon-Neutral Investment Policy, endorsed by 23 groups across our university—all student groups with one exception—including the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, Graduate Student Association, Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity (RAISE), Engineers Without Borders UW, Environment Students’ Society, Science Society, SDG Impact Alliance, University of Waterloo Energy Network, UW General Equality Club, and UW Impact Alliance.
In response to this policy, the students are requesting that the Board of Governors not only divest holdings in fossil fuel and associated companies, but transition toward a carbon neutral portfolio over the next five years, to move the University towards greater sustainability while improving security and increasing returns.
View the full request to President Hamdullahpur and the Board of Governors here.
View the letter calling on the Board of Governors to divest from fossil fuels and invest in a climate safe future here, where faculty and staff can still sign on to show their support!
Students can show their support by signing the student petition here.