Divestment from fossil fuels is overdue for Queen’s

The world’s continued use and exploitation of fossil fuels has been scientifically proven to affect the climate. Climate change isn’t just warmer weather around the globe, it’s more rain, more severe weather and more frequent natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Even though Queen’s feels far away from these events, it’s complicit in creating them by continuing to invest in the fossil fuel industry.

In the 2014-2015 school year, there was a push on campus for Queen’s to divest from the fossil fuels industry by groups like Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change. As a result, the Principal’s Advisory Committee on Divestment: Fossil Fuels was set up to advise Principal Woolf.

At the time, the advisory committee found no need for action on divestment, saying it would only hurt the school’s reputation among donors and weaken its power in the future. In the end, the vote put to the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees for divestment from the industry failed.

Two years later, Queen’s University is still invested in fossil fuels, which means a portion of the money our school controls is used to fund an industry that has some of the greatest culpability for our worsening climate. 

To combat climate change, Queen’s has taken some steps to reduce carbon emissions such as having a  plastic bottle free campus and initiatives meant to reduce student water wastefulness. Albeit a good first step, Queen’s still has a lot more to do in terms of combating climate change.

Surface-level environmental impact initiatives seem insincere when Queen’s doesn’t go as far as divesting from fossil fuels.

This lack of action on divestment isn’t merely a lack of action on climate change, but also a refusal to acknowledge the essence of the issue. It’s not possible to save the climate by reducing water wastage, but it is if we drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Divestment doesn’t only mean Queen’s would no longer fund the fossil fuel industry, but also that there would be more we could invest in to go towards stopping climate change.

The school is saying that every little bit counts when it comes to protecting the environment, and it’s absolutely right. It then must realize that divestment is to Queen’s what reusable water bottles are to its students. 

Clayton is The Journal’s Assistant Arts Editor. He’s a fourth-year English major.

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