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Chancellor Presented with Student Petition

University of Canterbury Chancellor Dr John Wood to Receive Student Petition to Stop Investing in Fossil Fuels

University of Canterbury Chancellor Dr John Wood was today presented with a petition from over 2000 students and staff, calling for the university to quit its investments in the fossil fuel industry, due to the contribution to climate change.

“The University of Canterbury is literally paying for and profiting from causing climate change,” Fossil Free UC spokesperson Jessica Reeves said. “This is ironic given several departments are researching how to prevent disastrous climate change.”

Fossil Free UC is a student group that has been campaigning over the past year and a half for the university to add the fossil fuel industry to its list of already excluded investments: armaments, gambling and tobacco.

The University’s current investments include BHP Billiton, a major Australian coal mining company which was responsible for Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster, the Bento Rodrigues dam collapse last year. (1) (2) (3)

The university has thus far rejected calls by staff and students for fossil fuel ‘divestment’, the selling of direct and indirect investments in fossil fuels, citing reasons such as the development of a sustainability policy, and difficulty investing in fossil free funds. (4)

“As a researcher working on climate politics and policy I am very aware that we have to make significant and rapid change quickly. Steps like divestment may appear symbolic but they are a part of a series of urgent changes we need to make” said Dr Bronwyn Hayward, Head of Political Science and International Relations Department, and an advisor to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (5)

Last week, University of Otago Council voted to divest from fossil fuels (6) making it the second university in New Zealand to divest, following Victoria University which divested in 2014. The Christchurch City Council has also divested from fossil fuels.

“Governments, corporations and universities world-wide should do everything within their powers to divest from fossil fuel as it contributes to climate change and the destruction of our planet” said Professor Steven Ratuva, Director of Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies.

“As a community, we trust our universities to be leading the way for a sustainable future. As a student here, I would be enormously proud to see UC show climate leadership and divest.” said Jess Reeves, spokesperson for Fossil Free UC.

“Fossil Free UC challenges the University of Canterbury to be a climate leader and to make a public commitment to take all money out of fossil fuel industry and to commit to stay away from dirty energy.”


References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bento_Rodrigues_dam_disaster
“Final Response” OIA attached, naming Perenneal WD fund
Perennial Wealth Defender fund, naming BHP Billiton Limited, page 3: http://www.perennial.net.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/12338/PVWDAST_0616_quarterly.pdf
Divestment request response from UC.pdf, attached
http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/81738978/we-get-to-make-a-real-difference-for-kids-on-the-planet
https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/divestment-policy-adopted-trust

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