Should UBC stop investing in fossil fuel companies?
Should the University of British Columbia continue to invest its endowment in fossil fuel companies, or should it divest itself of any such holdings? If UBCC350 has its way, students will vote on the issue in a referendum.
UBCC350 describes itself as a group of UBC students, faculty, and staff advocating "meaningful government climate action". It's gathering signatures in order to get a referendum question on the ballot for the next Alma Mater Society election. This vote could change the student society's official position on the matter and send a message to UBC's administration.
In a news release today (November 4), Divest UBC campaign manager Molly Henry states:
We believe that divestment represents an opportunity for the university to be a leader in sustainable investments and a model for other institutions. As students, we are the direct beneficiaries of what the endowment provides. We want to believe in the investments our school is making. It simply doesn't make sense to profit from investments that are ultimately destroying the environment and our future on this planet.
UBCC350 wants the university to put an immediate freeze on new fossil fuel investments and make a commitment to fully divest from fossil fuels within five years. The group will launch its Divest UBC campaign on Tuesday (November 5) with a 5 p.m. event in room A201 of the Buchanan building, featuring economist Marc Lee and activist Tzeporah Berman.
According to the UBC Investment Management Trust's 2013 annual report, the university's endowment fund is worth over $1 billion. Twelve percent of the fund's public equity holdings are in the energy sector. Back in June, the UBC board of governors approved a responsible investment strategy, which includes "direct investment in environmental and social projects".