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Divest is back and looking for transparency

by Miriam Lafontaine October 4, 2016
Divest is back and looking for transparency

Mobilization continues for full divestment from fossil fuels in Concordia University

Divest Concordia welcomed new members at its first General Assembly this past Thursday. The group has three goals this semester: to freeze all of Concordia’s new investments in the fossil fuel industry, to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies by 2020, and to increase the transparency of the university’s investments.

Divest Concordia has been working with the university, urging them to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in sustainable practices since 2013.

In 2011, Concordia had $11 million invested into the energy sector, particularly in oil, gas, and pipelines. Since 2014, there has been a shift in where the money has been invested. The Joint Sustainable Investment Advisory Committee (JSIAC), was created in 2014 to help reinvest $5 million into sustainable practices, and Divest Concordia was given a seat on the committee. JSIAC’s mandate is to make recommendations to respective governing bodies on environmentally and socially responsible investment opportunities, according to Concordia’s website.

By 2015, Concordia had lowered their investment in fossil fuels significantly, and now has just over $2 million invested in the energy sector, according to their 2015 Annual Report. The 2016 Annual Report numbers have yet to be released. While progress has been made, Divest Concordia wants to aim even higher.

“We want full divestment,” said Isabella Harned, the external coordinator and campaign coordinator at Sustainable Concordia and member of Divest Concordia. “We’re going for visibility on campus—that’s our main goal and intention for this semester.”

Divest Concordia also wants more transparency from the university, Harned said. Concordia may be investing far less in the energy sector as a whole, but it is no longer clear how much is exactly being invested into oil, gas or pipelines. Their 2009-10 annual report listed exactly how much was being put into each type of energy. That transparency no longer exists, said Harned, as now everything is lumped under the vague category “Energy” in the reports.

“[The investments] could be in oil and gas, or in green energy—we wouldn’t know”, said Jenna Cocullo, a Divest Concordia member.

“It’s hard to organize frequent meetings with administration,” added Harned.

This year, Divest Concordia organized an indigenous land defenders panel, a rap battle for climate justice at Reggies, a vegan lunch at orientation and made an appearance at Concordia’s annual shuffle between the Loyola and Sir George Williams campus to spread awareness about their goals.

Divest Concordia’s meetings are every Friday at 3 p.m., on the 7th floor of the Hall building next to People’s Potato.

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