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Hundreds of Medical students call for fossil fuel divestment


Hundreds of Medical students call for fossil fuel divestment for a healthy future

Yesterday, over 100 medical students from the Auckland University Medical Students Association (AUMSA) rallied to call on the University of Auckland to cease investments in coal, oil, and gas companies, to protect public health and reduce the impacts of climate change.

The rally coincided with a letter written to this end signed by over 300 medical students and the AUMSA executive, which was delivered to the Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Professor John Fraser. He assured that the students’ call will be conveyed to the School of Medicine Foundation.

“Today we came together to call for a future where our university no longer invests in industries which are driving climate change.” said third-year medical student Julia Kerr.

“As future doctors, we want a healthy future for the communities and patients we will serve. The burning of fossil fuels is a major threat to our nation and planet's health, so our letter calls on the School of Medicine Foundation to take action by divesting from coal, oil, and gas companies.”

The rally and letter reflect an ongoing three-year campaign for fossil fuel divestment at the University of Auckland, led by student group Fossil Free UoA. The campaign is endorsed by the Auckland University Students’ Association, and is part of a global movement that has led to institutions representing over $5 trillion in assets to divest from fossil fuels.

Divested institutions include the University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington, as well as the British Medical Association.

“The fossil fuel industry cannot continue to be supported if we are to prevent disastrous effects on public health and mitigate the devastating impacts of global warming by keeping to a 1.5 degree temperature rise,” added Kerr.

“We’re proud of our Faculty’s leading status in health education in New Zealand and internationally, and hope that the School of Medicine Foundation will choose to take this step towards a healthy future in the face of climate change by divesting from these companies.”

After two years of persistent campaigning and respectful dialogue with University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon, as well as the broader University administration, the Fossil Free UoA campaign have used nearly all potential diplomatic channels.

“But today’s powerful display from medical students, as well as Professor Fraser and the School of Medicine Foundation’s positive engagement with the letter, is encouraging,” said Fossil Free UoA spokesperson Ivan Mouraviev.

“We look forward to the Foundation’s response.”

The School of Medicine Foundation’s money is part of the larger University of Auckland Foundation. The pooled fund — which currently has no ethical investment policy — currently consists of around $108 million, and is on track to grow significantly through the University’s $300 million fundraising campaign launched in 2016, titled “For All Our Futures”.

Said Mouraviev: “The University’s Foundations must divest now, for all our futures.”

ENDS

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