UBC faculty vote to move forward on fossil fuel divestment referendum

November 21, 2014

The UBC faculty association has voted 66% in favour of holding a referendum that could call on the university to divest itself of approximately $100 M in fossil fuel stocks. The referendum will be held in the last week of January and the first week of February. Should the faculty support the measure, UBC’s board of governors would be required to review the issue. The board of governors would not be bound to the results of the review, but would vote on whether or not to proceed with divestment. “We would like UBC to be a leader in acting on climate change,” said professor George Hoberg, who helped organize the vote. UBC spokesperson Pascal Spothelfer said, “UBC’s board of governors recognizes the importance of socially responsible investment and has put a process in place” to make a decision that will balance all stakeholders’ interests. Should UBC proceed, it would follow Stanford University, the city of Seattle, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in divesting from fossil fuel stocks. Financial Post

Postscript: February 11, 2015

Faculty at UBC have voted 62% in favour of calling on the university to divest itself of its fossil fuel stocks. Currently, more than $100 M of UBC's $1.2 B endowment fund is invested in oil, natural gas, and coal. UBC faculty will now bring their proposal forward to the board of governors. "Just as UBC has pledged to use its campus as a 'living laboratory' for sustainability, we call on the university to apply its expertise with the same vigour to the endowment. UBC should devise a profitable, fossil-free portfolio that can serve as an inspiration for sustainable investing by other institutions," said political science professor Kathryn Harrison. In a statement, UBC said, "we welcome our faculty members' interest in our investment policies. As the trustee of the endowment, UBC has a fiduciary obligation to ensure that it is managed prudently." Faculty at McGill University recently presented a petition to their board of governors arguing for divestment; a divestment campaign is expected to be launched at the University of Calgary on Friday, which has been designated Global Divestment Day. CBC