University of Waterloo - divest fossil fuels and invest in a greener future

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Did you know that the University of Waterloo is currently investing our money in companies that are contributing to climate change?

Every year when students pay tuition we contribute to endowment funds. These funds are then invested in fossil fuel companies. At least $27 million in student money is currently supporting the fossil fuel industryputting all our futures at risk![1] This investment is at a time when the effects of global climate change are already occurring - sea ice is disappearing, ocean levels are rising, and droughts and heat waves are longer and more intense.[2] Climate change is having devastating effects on our environment – and on us! Around the world already nearly 1,000 children are now dying every day because of climate change, and the annual death toll stands at 400,000 people worldwide.[3]

Often we feel like there is little we can do as individuals to contribute to a solution – but here is an easy opportunity for us to act! Sign our petition urging the University of Waterloo to divest fossil fuel holdings!

The great thing about the divestment movement is that it is an action that allows all sides to win. It makes environmental and ethical sense to divest (take our money out of fossil fuel companies) – and with our economy transitioning it also makes financial sense to divest. China is moving away from combustion engine cars in the next five years, California is exploring a similar action.[4] As of December 2016 investment funds valued at over $5.3 trillion have committed to selling off fossil fuel assets – ranging from the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund to other universities[5] – and this number doubled in just over a year![6] Portfolio managers from New York to Australia are reporting that fossil fuel investments are actually losing money and costing members.[7] This is at a time when 7.66% of our student endowment funds are invested in companies like Royal Dutch Shell and Suncor.[1] Interestingly, the UW pension fund is more protected with only 2.66% exposure to the top 200 fossil fuel companies.[1] We students stand to lose a lot as the market continues to shift, while universities that have divested and reinvested wisely, like Syracuse that is seeing a gain of 12%.[8]

As University of Waterloo’s students, staff, faculty and alumni we ask the University of Waterloo to divest our endowment fund from fossil fuel industry holdings, and invest in greener options.

Following the urging of students and faculty and in line with a Provincial directive, our UW Board of Governors created a Responsible Investment Working Group that is looking at the way our $335 million in endowment funds are invested. As of May 8, 2017, 7.66% or  $27.3 million of our money is being invested in fossil fuel companies.[1] This is at a time when it just doesn’t make good financial sense – according to our own UW researchers.[9]

Our Responsible Investment Working Group has an incredible opportunity to rethink the way all our University investments are made. We call on the Responsible Investment Working Group to consider whether their investments are green, socially responsible, and preserve health, but urge them to remember that if we don’t address climate change, all other efforts are for naught.

Ethically, socially and environmentally, it is not responsible to keep our money in fossil fuel producing companies. It doesn’t make good economic sense either. For our personal, economic and climate futures we need UW to make better choices!

University of Waterloo, we call on you to continue to be innovative and to show global leadership in this energy transition – and to make this choice with integrity. Choose greener options for all our futures!

How we invest our money reflects our values. UW has committed to promoting integrity as a core value of our campus community. Our university must make decisions that reflect our values and priorities – to be in Concordia cum veritate, "In Harmony with Truth". Climate change is a truth that cannot be denied – and that requires immediate action. 

We call on the Board of Governors live up to the UW commitment, along with the other members from the Council of Ontario Universities, as one of Ontario Universities Committed to a Greener World, with the objective of transforming our school into a model of environmental responsibility.[10]

We have an easy action we can take – sign this petition asking UW to remove our money currently invested in fossil fuel companies and make cleaner, healthier and more socially responsible investment decisions!

 If you have more to say, the Responsible Investment Working Group is asking us all to provide our comments and views about whether and how they should include environmental, social and governance factors into decision making for these funds. Find out more information here: https://uwaterloo.ca/secretariat/news/responsible-investing-working-group or send your comments to the working group via email through the secretary Mike Grivicic at mgrivicic@uwaterloo.ca.

 

This petition is brought to you by Fossil Free UW https://fossilfreeuw.ca/ – a group of concerned students and faculty from across the campus.

In line with the 68 University of Waterloo faculty who wrote to President Hamdullahpur and Members of the Board on February 1st, 2016, Fossil Free UWaterloo is working to ensure that the President and Board assess the financial risks posed by climate change to the University of Waterloo’s endowment and pension plans, commit to no new investment in fossil fuels, and develop a strategy to divest the university from holdings in the fossil fuel industry. We call on then to ensure that these funds are divested completely in the next five years.

By changing the way our money is invested, we can change climate future! It is time for the University of Waterloo to bring our practice in the world in line with what we learn in the classroom.

Please sign and share! Thank-you for taking action on this important issue!

 

[***Please note that change.org might prompt you to make a $7 donation, just select "not at this time".***]

 


References: 

[1] Office of Administration & Finance, University of Waterloo, May 8, 2017.
[2] NASA. (2017). The consequences of climate change: https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
[3] DARA. (2017). Climate Vulnerability Monitor: http://daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CVM2ndEd-FrontMatter.pdf
[4] California Considers Following China With Combustion-Engine Car Ban. (Sept 26, 2017):
 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-26/california-mulls-following-china-with-combustion-engine-car-ban
[5] Fossil Free. (n.d.) Divestment Commitments: https://gofossilfree.org/commitments/
[6] Fossil fuel divestment funds double to $5tn in a year. (Dec 12, 2016): https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/12/fossil-fuel-divestment-funds-double-5tn-in-a-year
[7] Have we reached the tipping point for investing in renewable energy? (Feb 13, 2016):
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/feb/13/renewable-energy-investment-fossil-fuel-divestment-investor-summit-climate-change?utm_content=bufferf8ed4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
[8] Divestment from fossil fuels has not caused Syracuse University’s endowment to suffer, official says. (Sept 26, 2017):
http://dailyorange.com/2017/09/divestment-fossil-fuels-not-caused-syracuse-universitys-endowment-suffer-official-says/
[9] J. Rubin. (2016). The Case for Divesting from Fossil Fuels in Canada:  https://www.cigionline.org/publications/case-divesting-fossil-fuels-canada
[10] Council of Ontario Universities (2009): http://cou.on.ca/about/more/commitment-to-sustainability/



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