Divestment activists take campaign to the Council
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DIVESTMENT ACTIVISTS BRING CAMPAIGN TO THE COUNCIL
But questions still left unanswered
Melbourne, 10th June 2015: Over 50 students and alumni gathered for a demonstration at the site of a meeting of the University of Melbourne Council yesterday evening to encourage the University to include a policy of full divestment from fossil fuels in its new Charter of Sustainability. If passed, the Charter will cover operations, curriculum, research and investments.
Students and alumni marched to the meeting place to encourage Council members to both approve the Charter and include divestment from fossil fuels within the investment section. They offered words of encouragement and cheers as Councillors passed by. Nevertheless, after the meeting, Councillors did not respond to questions about the Charter. Furthermore, the Vice-Chancellor, along with other high-ranking University Administrators, were escorted out of the building’s rear entrance by a group of security guards. Consequently, whether the Charter has been approved or not remains unknown.
The demonstration is one of a series organised by Fossil Free Melbourne University (MU), a student-led group calling on the University to be an Australian leader in a global divestment movement that has gained considerable momentum, with Axa, Oxford University and Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund committing to reduce their exposure to fossil fuels in recent weeks.
“In order to stay below 2°C of global warming, 80% of current fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground. Fossil fuel companies not only plan to extract and sell their reserves but they do everything they can to block political action on climate. In the past, the University of Melbourne has divested from rogue industries like tobacco and immoral regimes such as Apartheid South Africa. Now it’s time to divest from fossil fuels,” stated Undergraduate student and member of Fossil Free MU Angus Dowell.
“The University has an obligation to take action in line with the climate science it teaches us and the values of responsibility and integrity it instils in us,” continued Dowell.
“The Charter of Sustainability is an exciting concept with great promise. However, it will fail in its attempt to be ‘holistic’ if it does not include full divestment from fossil fuels within 5 years,” finished Dowell.
Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Economics Ben Neville commented on the University’s continued investment in fossil fuels, saying “It is putting its reputation and brand at risk. Rather than being seen as a public-spirited thought leader, the University risks looking like a mean-spirited, thought laggard.”
The event comes 10 months after the Australian National University divested from two mining companies, causing a media sensation that saw most of the Federal Cabinet weigh in on criticism of the University’s decision. Since then, 20 more universities have committed to drop their fossil fuel shares. Despite growing local and international pressure to divest, no other Australian university has committed to selling their mining stocks since the ANU announcement in September 2014.
Fossil Free Melbourne University is a student-led group calling on the University of Melbourne to divest its $1 billion endowment fund from the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies as part of a global fossil fuel divestment movement.
For more information visit http://www.fossilfreemu.org
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