Divestment activists hijack Open Day
Divestment activists hijack UniMelb Open Day
Vice-Chancellor shirks responsibility for investments
MELBOURNE Sunday August 16, Students from Fossil Free Melbourne University hijacked the University’s Parkville Campus Open Day today as part of a campaign to see the University stop investing in the top 200 fossil fuel companies.
Students dressed as climate angels and fossil fuel executives disrupted information sessions by enacting the fight between those trying to protect the environment and those causing dangerous climate change, fossil fuel companies. Students were met with heavy security at a number of the lecture theatres. On two occasions, campaigners ran into Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis and put forward the case for divestment.
The University has been reluctant to engage in discussion with student campaigners about divestment from fossil fuels and even less willing to publicly reveal the extent of its investments in the fossil fuel industry. When approached by students today, Glyn Davis repeatedly denied that the University invests in fossil fuels, despite evidence provided to students in 2013 to the contrary. Davis pointed out the fact that the University does not invest directly in fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the University does own shares in fossil fuel companies via their external fund manager, the Victorian Funds Management Corporation.
“It’s disappointing that the Vice-Chancellor would prefer to pretend the University does not invest in fossil fuels than engage in a serious debate with students about the ethical dilemma of profiting from the main industry causing climate change” said Undergraduate student and Fossil Free campaigner Angus Dowell.
“That the University teaches us all about the devastating impacts of climate change while profiting from the burning of fossil fuels is outrageous” he continued.
“Fossil fuel companies are blocking strong political action on climate change. The University has divested from morally corrupt industries in the past, why not fossil fuels?” said Dowell.
“If the University wants to tell it’s future students that it is the no. 1 University in Australia, it should act like the leader it claims to be by fully divesting from the top 200 worst polluting companies within 5 years. It is time the University listened to the thousands of students and staff that have been calling for the University to divest for over 2 years now” finished Dowell.
To date, 33 universities around the world have fully or partially divested from fossil fuel companies. In October last year, the Australian National University (ANU) divested from two fossil fuel mining companies, causing uproar in the financial press, with almost the entire Federal Cabinet weighing in. No Australian universities have committed to fully divest from fossil fuels yet.