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The University of Ottawa for its part, is listed as having a “partial” commitment to divesting according to the Fossil Free Project. Image: University of Victoria/Provided

UVic latest victory for divestment movement which is active on campuses across Canada

The University of Victoria (UVic) announced on Feb. 2 that it would be moving its capital fund into fossil-free investments. The announcement is being heralded as a victory for the divestment movement. 

The university says it plans to “move $80 million to a short-term bond fund that focuses on reducing the carbon intensity of the investments”

In a press release, the ‘Divest UVic’ group called the announcement a “major victory in the eight-year fight to halt [the] University of Victoria’s investments in the fossil fuel industry.” 

UVic is the latest victory for the divestment movement which is active on campuses across the country.

However, even with the recent announcement, the group was clear in noting that “the battle for full divestment is not yet over.”

The University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa is listed as having a “partial” commitment to divesting according to the Fossil Free Project, which tracks the commitments of more than 1200 institutions internationally. 

The Ontario University Student Alliance (OUSA), with whom the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) has recently become an observer school, believes that “the provincial government should incentivize post-secondary institutions, through Strategic Mandate Agreements, to begin the process of divestment immediately and fully divest by no later than 2026.”

OUSA represents nearly 150,000 undergraduate students across the province and advocates for the interests of students at the provincial level through public policy recommendations that they present.

The process has taken years of work. 

On Apr. 20, 2016, the U of O won Ontario Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence. Five days later on April 25, U of O’s Board of Governors “rejected the idea of divestment as an insufficient response on its own to the climate challenges.”

The topic of divestment was also brought to a vote at the UOSU’s 2019 Fall General Assembly (FGA). 

The motion passed with the majority of those voting being “supportive of the principle of divestment from fossil fuel companies, as well as oppos[ing] any of our own future investments.”

The UOSU’s advocacy commissioner Tim Gulliver emphasized the importance of divesting from fossil fuels in the capital region.

“If other universities are making this important, sustainable, but also moral step to divest and the U of O claims to be the climate leader that it is then why don’t we do the same?”

Gulliver went on to mention the U of O’s commitment to transferring funds out of fossil fuels and raised some concerns. 

“We’ve been trying to meet with different people at the university’s finance administration department for a while, and we haven’t gotten anywhere, really. So that does also create cause for suspicion, it is a little bit worrisome,” said Gulliver.

“I think we’d like to see more transparency.”