UW Won’t Stop Funding Climate Change – But You Can.

The following the letter we will submit to the University of Waterloo administration along with the ‘petition’ of students withdrawing their funds in protest of continued fossil fuel investments.

Sign the petition and withdraw your funds now: bit.ly/EndowmentRefund

A FAQ regarding this campaign is also below.

Letter:

Given,

  • We are all facing an existential climate crisis: The intergovernmental panel on climate change has found that we need to nearly half fossil fuel consumption by 2030 to avoid civilization-threatening levels of climate breakdown. With the point of no return so close, we are all personally affected.
  • Investors are complicit in climate breakdown: The world continues with business as usual, where fossil fuel companies earn profits for their shareholders by burning the fuels which condemn the world to climate breakdown and blocking real government action.
  • UW has rejected calls for divestment: After Environment students voted to divest their endowment (in 2015) and over 100 faculty and more than 700 students signed a letter and petition calling for divestment, the university’s responsible investing working group recommended no specific action on climate change. They insist we stay invested in climate disaster.

To the university of Waterloo,

I am calling on you to end our investments in fossil fuels – this time with actions that speak louder than words. I am requesting an endowment fund refund this semester and every semester until none of my contributions are invested in fossil fuels – at which point I commit to resuming endowment contributions (don’t worry, FFUW will remind you). This isn’t ideal for the endowments but this is the noise of us pulling the fire alarm on climate change – since you won’t.

FAQ for endowment refunds

Doesn’t this just hurt us and our endowment without affecting the university? No. Some endowments may suffer a bit, but the university has signal this is a PR issue and they will notice students taking a hard line on fossil fuels. Some endowments like the Environment one (WESEF) have more funding than they can distribute. Finally, this is a short term action and that in response, student endowments will soon act to cut ties with the UW endowment – or better, the university will divest – so we can resume our contributions.

Why can’t FFs be profitable with a safe climate? The recent IPCC report let us know that if we don’t cut emissions 45% between now and 2030, or face catastrophe. Its almost impossible to make money in a rapidly shrinking market.

Why is now a time to take urgent and drastic action? Higher schoolers are going on strike for climate action, even in KW because we are running out of time and those incharge just keep on with business as usual. Not everyone will agree on all action, but a fire alarm only works if its loud and disruptive.

How does this campaign work and where is it going. We’ll collect the name of everyone who fills out the form and submit it to the university as a sort of petition. The goal is to jump start a new wave of organizing and actions while putting pressure on both student government and the administration to act.

FAQs regarding UW talking points

The university says it only has 1-2% fossil fuel investments. That doesn’t seem like a big deal. In fact the university has only examined half its portfolio and found that half (stocks) to be ~7% fossil fuel investment, mainly in oil sands companies. Legally, companies are obligated to make us shareholder profits. But these profits depend on increasing oil production, whereas we need to cut emissions by nearly half in twelve years.

Isn’t divestment just symbolic? No. New research and admissions by fossil fuel companies shows that divestment impacts stock values. Also, symbols are powerful: the more organization that divest, the more it becomes clear that earning a profit from destroying our future is a repugnant practice and is socially unacceptable.

Won’t the university lose money if it divests? Not likely. Organizations that have divested in the past three years have actually avoided losses in fossil fuel stocks (more…). Many large organization – even trillion dollar funds – have divested, and conducted detailed analysis to ensure it is financially sound.

For more FAQs regarding divestment in general, see this

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