University of Winnipeg fossil fuel investment plans disappoint student group
Board of regents voted Monday to adopt new approach to divestment
A student group at the University of Winnipeg is disappointed with proposed changes around fossil fuel investment.
The group Divest UWinnipeg has been working with the university through a year-long consultation process about the university's fossil fuel investments. The group wanted the University of Winnipeg Foundation and pension board of trustees to end investments in stocks and bonds of companies involved in extracting fossil fuels.
The university's board of regents voted on Monday to ask the foundation and pension board to create a responsible investment policy that applies environmental, social and governance criteria, the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business.
The vote also approved asking the foundation and pension board to create a separate fund option that is 100 per cent fossil fuel free and geared towards green innovation. If adopted, a donor could request that funds go into an investment that is fossil fuel free.
The foundation and the pension board are affiliated with the university but are not obliged to adopt the proposals.
In a news release, Divest UWinnipeg said the changes miss the mark and the university did not endorse the concept of divestment within the proposal.
"The U of W's choice not to divest from fossil fuels represents a contradiction with its commitments to sustainability, Indigenization and, ultimately, reconciliation," Kevin Settee, the University of Winnipeg Students' Association president, said in the news release.
"The university's work towards Indigenization and sustainability is severely undermined by continuing to invest in the very companies that are destroying our land and bodies."
No Canadian university has fully divested from fossil fuels, although a number are establishing a similar fossil fuel-free fund, the university said in a news release.
"UWinnipeg has adopted a balanced approach to the divestment issue which is consistent with actions taken by other universities in Canada," said Chris Minaker, the university's senior executive officer and advisor to the president.
"No Canadian university has fully divested. Our board directive to examine establishment of a green investment fund is a solid step forward."
The board will meet again in September and the foundation and pension board have been asked to respond to the proposals within 12 months.