This week the fossil fuel divestment movement gained another supporter. Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England and former governor of the Bank of Canada, stated this past Sunday that the vast majority of oil reserves must be considered unburnable if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. This, in his opinion, leads to the majority of oil companies’ reserves being considered stranded assets. This is part of the economic argument for divesting from fossil fuels — which in simple terms, means taking our money out of stocks and bonds of fossil fuel companies. Mark Carney is just adding his voice to a growing call for a rethink to how we invest our money. This past January the president of the World Bank called for divestment from and taxation of carbon. These are major figures in the financial world that are acknowledging that investing in fossil fuels is becoming a financial risk as well as a risk to our future. Not only is there an economic argument for divestment, there is also an ethical argument. Fossil fuels are a major contributor to man-made climate change, which is causing great hardship around the world. The sea level rise is swallowing up small island states in the pacific, like Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. Storms are growing stronger and more frequent, causing people to be displaced, property to be lost, and in some cases the loss of human life. When we profit from fossil fuels, we are profiting from what is causing suffering around the world. Other world figures like Desmond Tutu, Al Gore, and Naomi Klein have also joined the call for divestment from fossil fuels. Students around the world are looking to divest their universities from fossil fuels. Already Stanford has agreed to divest their $18.7 billion endowment fund from coal. And just last week the University of Glasgow announced it was moving towards divestment of their endowment fund. Climate change is something that affects the whole world and will be affecting our generation well into the future. Our money, provided through the various campus endowment funds, is part of the problem. We need to consider divesting from fossil fuel companies at UW for the sake of our future.
Master of Climate Change student
Member, Waterloo 350