UBC board of governors votes against divestment from fossil fuel industry

The University of British Columbia's board of governors has voted against dumping fossil fuel investments despite push from faculty and students.

'UBC is sending the message that they're just not concerned about climate change', says divestment campaigner

The UBC board of governors has voted against divestment. (Darryl Dyck/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The University of British Columbia's board of governors has voted against dumping the university's investments in
fossil fuels.

The school's finance committee brought a motion not to support divestment, but instead to create a so-called Sustainable Future Fund which would provide a low carbon alternative fund to be seeded with an initial allocation of $10 million.

Divestment has been an ongoing issue at the institution for several years, with students and staff voting overwhelmingly in favour of pushing the investments out of UBC's portfolio.

"We're talking about my generation's future on this planet," said Roxanne Hasior, fourth-year engineering student and Divest UBC campaigner. "Divestment should not have been a difficult decision. Every major constituency across the university has shown its support."

"80% of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we are to have a chance of keeping warming to below 2 degrees," says Alex Hemingway, PhD Candidate and Divest UBC campaigner.  "By refusing to stop investing in the companies that own these reserves, UBC is sending the message that they're just not concerned about climate change."

Divest UBC also claims that UBC's definition of "low-carbon" in relation to the new Sustainable Future Fund allows the inclusion of coal, gas and oil holdings.

"Exchange Traded Funds satisfying UBC's criteria are currently invested in multiple coal companies. The Board has indicated they know that at least 21 of the investments are in the world's largest 200 coal, oil, and gas companies," reads a statement released by Divest UBC.  

Investments tied to oil, gas and coal companies make up less than ten per cent of the university's $1.4-billion endowment.

None of the three student representatives on the Board supported the proposal against divestment.