Divest McGill, a student group advocating socially responsible investment, delivered two petitions to an advisory committee of McGill’s Board of Governors on Friday. The petitions ask McGill to redirect endowment funds from companies in the oil sands and fossil fuels industry, as well as from companies associated with Plan Nord Development.
Each petition has received nearly 800 signatures from students, alumni, faculty, and staff, and the call for divestment has been endorsed by both SSMU and the AUS. Alongside the petitions, members of Divest McGill also submitted a series of briefs outlining the damage being caused by these companies.
Divest McGill seeks to mitigate the social injury caused by “the global threat of climate change, the rejection of indigenous land rights, and the affront to democracy and science posed by these companies.” The group advocates that fossil fuel companies keep 80 percent of their reserves underground and use the remaining 20 percent to power a transition towards more sustainable methods.
According to the Divest McGill website, McGill invests funds from its $955 million endowment in 645 publically traded corporations, of which 37 have been identified as involved in either oil sands, fossil fuels, or both. This constitutes 5.7 percent of the University’s holdings, though exact numbers of shares in each have not been made publicly available and the list of identified companies is likely incomplete.
Divest McGill is part of a greater grassroots student movement being spearheaded by the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. McGill is not a unique case, and campaigns such as this have spread to 234 universities across Canada and the United States. The content of the petitions and briefs, as well as a list of identified fossil fuel companies in which McGill invests is available at divestmcgill.wordpress.com.