Laval divesting from fossil fuels

2017-02-16

in Canada, Economics, Politics, The environment

Yesterday, Quebec’s Université Laval announced that it will become Canada’s first university to fully divest from fossil fuels:

“Today, Université Laval commits to taking responsible action to switch its endowment fund investments in fossil energy to other types of investments, such as renewable energy,” announced Éric Bauce, Executive Vice Rector in charge of sustainable development, while confirming that Université Laval is the first university in Canada to do so. To do this, Université Laval will form a responsible investment advisory committee, including student representatives, who will be tasked with recommending methods, practices, and actions. Furthermore, an annual progress report on the investment transition will be released.”

The story was covered by Le Devoir, Ricochet, and le Soleil.

The student group which successfully campaigned for divestment — ULaval sans fossiles — has been organizing since November.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Oleh February 19, 2017 at 3:29 am

Thank you for letting us know of this development. It is unfortunate that this decision was not picked up outside of the French language media.

alena February 21, 2017 at 12:30 am

Good for Laval! Could someone write an article about it?

. February 25, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Early in the campaign, we asked the David Suzuki Foundation’s director general in Quebec, Karel Mayrand, to contact the university’s administration on our behalf. A Laval alumnus, he had also previously given back his degree from McGill University because of their refusal to divest.

Mayrand was able to organize a meeting with the number two of Laval University, Mr. Éric Bauce, executive vice rector in charge of sustainable development. We arrived well prepared, with clear demands and ready to negotiate. After two hours of discussions, Bauce put his fist on the table and said that, instead of first seeing if divesting was possible before committing, the university should make the commitment first and then find a way to achieve their goal.

The case was closed. We had won.

We left the meeting in shock, not sure that they would really do what we had agreed on. As so-called leftist students, we were not used to winning.

The initial contact with the administration was a success, mostly because the person in charge of the matter really saw the benefits of divesting from fossil fuels environmentally, economically, and, most of all, for Laval University’s image. They saw our proposition as an opportunity to become real leaders, and that is why they acted so early on in our campaign. They saw the value in full divestment and chose not to take half measures like other Canadian universities have.

Essentially, the difference between our campaign and other campaigns is an administration that saw the leadership potential of this commitment. We are certain that this will be the first commitment of many to come from universities across the country. Unfortunately it’s no longer possible to pressure your administration by baiting them with the possibility of becoming the first university in Canada to divest, but they certainly won’t want to be the last. And you can work with that.

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