QBACC appeals to Trustees at first meeting of academic year

Queen's Backing Action on Climate Change pushes for retrofitting old campus building, reducing waste 

Queen's Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) Chair Nick Lorraway speaks to protesters at last Friday's climate strike.
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After addressing more than 500 students at Friday’s climate strike, representatives from QBACC headed into Richardson Hall to bring their demands to Queen’s Board of Trustees.

QBACC President Nick Lorraway (ArtSci ’20) and Vice-President Sam Green (Sci ’20) attended the first Board of Trustees meeting of the year and presented their case to members of the body—including newly-minted principal, Patrick Deane. QBACC, which pushed the University to consider divestment in 2015, hosted the Sept. 27 strike with Divest Queen’s, another campus group pushing for fossil fuel divestment.

“We’re not here to make a stock recommendation, we’re here because we are funding these companies that are incompatible with the future,” Lorraway said in an interview.

“It’s about pushing the industry to change faster than it’s currently changing, because we need a future that we all want to live in,” Green said in an interview with The Journal

Lorraway and Green put their demands to the Board into two categories: divestment and implementing changes on campus. Some of these changes include retrofitting old campus buildings, implementing mandatory Indigenous sensitivity and awareness training for all staff and faculty, and reducing waste.

“So essentially, it has ESG, environmental, social, and governance factors, [which] can only be considered under the umbrella of financial, so risk-return can only be considered as how these factors affect the company’s ability to earn money.”

“Even if we brought divestment forward and talked about climate change, the board members wouldn’t be allowed to consider or make any consideration towards divestment,” he said. “The board’s hands are tied in this sense.”

Instead, QBACC hopes to change the system by separating the two factors. “Under fiduciary duty, we wanted [ESG and risk-return] to be considered separately, basically decoupling them so they consider first ESG and financial and then weigh against each other,” Green said.

Aside from decoupling the two factors, QBACC also wants Queen’s to develop their own definition and criteria for ESG.

When asked how they felt after the meeting, Lorraway said it was a warm and positive reception.

“Principal Deane mentioned us by name, and in his opening remarks,” he said. “I felt respected in the room. I felt like we were heard.”

The meeting was also opened with reports from Alex da Silva, rector, and Auston Pierce, AMS president. Both took positions in favour of bringing student voices into the conversation around the University's divestment.

“We’ll follow up on this week and we’re going to see what happens there, because I haven’t heard anything as of right now,” Lorraway said about the meeting.

Both Green and Lorraway expressed the need to build on the momentum Friday’s climate strike provided. While they wait for the Trustees’ response, Green said QBACC will be setting up workshops to guide students from different faculties to create conversations about divestment.

“It’s about solidifying the support, getting through to Senate, and going to the union and alumni,” Lorraway said. “If the committee is not put together and they decide what they’re doing right now is what they want to keep doing, we’ll be pretty disappointed, because that would be ignoring the students.”

In an email to The Journal, Don Raymond, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the Board was pleased to hear from QBACC at Friday’s meeting.

“I plan to schedule time to discuss their concerns with them further in the coming weeks and I look forward to continuing this important dialogue with QBACC,” he wrote.

Corrections

This article has been corrected to reflect the accurate nature of Auston Pierce and Alex da Silva's remarks in the meeting.

The Journal regrets the error.

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