DeSilva and Harvey-Sànchez divestment podcast series complete

The fifth and final episode in Amanda Harvey-Sànchez and Julia DeSilva’s series on the University of Toronto fossil fuel divestment campaign, successively organized by, UofT, and then the Leap Manifesto and Divestment & Beyond groups.

The episode brings back guests from each prior era, and includes some interesting reflections on what organizers from different eras felt they learned, the value of protest as an empowerment space and venue for inter-activist networking, the origins of the Leap Manifesto group in the aftermath of the 2016 rejection, as well as how they explain President Gertler’s decision to reverse himself and divest five years after he rejected the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign.

Threads on previous episodes:

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

7 thoughts on “DeSilva and Harvey-Sànchez divestment podcast series complete”

  1. It was a very interesting podcast and deals with a topic that many people know little about. I am frequently asked by knowledgeable people what “divestment” is. The podcast shows the different personalities and goals of the activists in this movement.

  2. There is a lot that is interesting in the episode.

    For me, a worrisome element is a lack of focus on actually solving climate change. They are keen to call out the injustice of existing systems of power and call for new ones, but then they just assume (a) that is possible and (b) the new systems of power won’t perpetuate climate change.

    I don’t think that is justified given the structural barriers to climate change action, which will persist no matter who is in charge (granting activists the possibility that their strategies might be able to change that).

    The position which Stu in particular expresses – we don’t know what to do, and need to get the answers from Indigenous people – seems to miss both the urgency of action and the simple fact that we already know what we need to do to stop climate change: abandon fossil fuels.

    The big risk of embracing intersectionality and asserting that everything needs to change all at once is that it misses the need and ability to change the few things which are most urgent as soon as possible.

  3. I would also say it’s ironic and lamentable that Ben’s pro-NDP perspective as a climate activist is so anti-Liberal, when the Trudeau Liberals have brought in a crucial carbon pricing system, with sufficient buy-in from the provinces and Supreme Court. Elizabeth May once told me the left can never unite because the NDP’s priority is always trying to supplant the Liberals as the governing left-of-centre party, rather than prioritize legislative and policy achievements which may be possible through cross-party consensus.

  4. What I found most interesting was a disconnect between organization, long term protest and action and eventual success. The newer group gave no credit to the founders, writers and diplomats who dealt with getting the movement off the ground.
    In my opinion, the birth of the climate Justice movement is a response to the lack of action by leaders and industry. As a result of the sense of frustration and helplessness, people who care have taken on more personal or direct causes to take action in. Giving a toilet to a girl’s school
    in Nepal has immediate and satisfying consequences. It is a win-win situation. Humans are not patient and our leaders are only strategic for themselves. This makes the success of the divestment movement even more remarkable.

  5. The newer group gave no credit to the founders, writers and diplomats who dealt with getting the movement off the ground.

    It’s a bit more nuanced and perhaps even more contradictory. They deride cooperative tactics of following administration procedures, but recognize the brief which was produced in that manner as a success of the campaign – and a place where work at U of T was successfully applied elsewhere.

    As for crediting the founders, as Ben and others discuss there is little memory or documentation within these activist campaigns. It’s not a surprise that they forget their origins and the intentions and aims of their originators, or misremember in some of the ways I describe in my thesis.

  6. Also, gratitude can often be limited or absent in left-wing organizing spaces. People will find any error or ideological mis-statement and use it as the basis to condemn or reject you wholesale. Because of the intense skepticism about hierarchy and organizations (even their own organizations) past members are at risk of being remembered only for any errors or mistakes from the perspective of the dominant ideology in the group.

  7. “People will find any error or ideological mis-statement and use it as the basis to condemn or reject you wholesale.”

    That sounds like reactionary talk that should get you shunned forever!

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