Uni of Otago Foundation Trust Divests from Fossil Fuel
University of Otago Foundation Trust Divests from Fossil Fuel Exploration and Extraction
On Monday the University of Otago Foundation Trust decided to divest its endowments from the “exploration and extraction of fossil fuels”. Divestment made the monthly meeting agenda after 24 notable university staff members and a petition 1000 signatures strong urged the University Council and associated Foundation Trust to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in renewable energy.
The divestment movement, brought to New Zealand by 350 Aotearoa, aims to delegitimise the fossil fuel industry and work towards a renewable future by campaigning for organisations to remove their funds from the fossil fuel industry, pushing for fossil fuels to be viewed as unethical investments.
Scientists say that we cannot afford to burn majority of known fossil fuel reserves if we wish to avoid extreme global warming. In spite of this the International Monetary Fund states that global subsidies to the fossil fuel industry will be $5.3 tr this year, amounting to $10m per minute.
The United Nations and HSBC are in support of divesting from fossil fuels. Hundreds of universities, trusts, governments and institutions around the world and here in Aotearoa have divested from fossil fuels over the last two decades, including Victoria University this year.
OtagoUniDivests spokesperson Annabeth Cohen says “This is a step in the right direction. Funding fossil fuel companies wrecks the climate and the university’s reputation. The Foundation Trust has shown that its commitment to sustainability is strong.”
Student Sarah Mitchell from OtagoUniDivests says “It's fantastic that the university’s endowment is no longer funding the very organisations responsible for climate change.”
Science Communications Master’s Student Siana Fitzjohn from OtagoUniDivests said “I’m relieved to see that the university has agreed not to fund fossil fuel exploration and extraction. The earth has a carbon budget that is rapidly running out- fossil fuels must stay in the ground if our generation is to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”
Alumna and Centre for Sustainability Research Fellow Debbie Hopkins says “Being the first university in New Zealand and research-led, forward-thinking institution, I am glad to see the Foundation Trust taking leadership and divesting from fossil fuels. I am really proud to be an alumna and staff member of Otago Uni.”
University of Otago Alumna and Dunedin City Councilor Jinty MacTavish who is in support of fossil fuel divestment says, "Taken together, the City Council's position and the University Foundation Trust's position are a significant demonstration of city leadership on the climate issue at this critical time. I'm a very proud alumna and Dunedin resident today."
“While we are all very pleased, there is still more work to be done. Now there is pressure for the University of Otago Council to divest and we expect them to follow suit. Afterwards, the obvious next step for the University is to stop burning coal. We are talking the talk, now its time to walk the walk. ” said Cohen.