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Campus group urges university to divest from fossil fuels

Richelle Martin and Julia Hansen, the president and vice-president of Fossil Free UNB, are pushing for change by pressuring the university to divest in fossil-fuel companies.

“Fossil Free UNB is part of an international campaign with a goal to get the university to remove its investments in the top 200 fossil-fuel extracting companies,” Martin said.

“We’ve also set one of our personal club goals as to just raise awareness among students and faculty at UNB about the risks of continuing fossil fuel developments,” said Martin.

The University of New Brunswick is currently invested in 40 of the world’s top 200 publicly traded fossil-fuel extracting companies.

“Putting the economy before our environment is unsustainable. The economy will die if our ecosystems collapse. The economy relies on our environment. We can’t have one without the other,” Martin.

Their goal is not only to have the university divest, however.

“Our goal is to divest from the top 200 fuel extracting companies, but we also want to come up with some real viable solutions and alternatives to shift away from fossil-fuels towards green energy,” said Hansen.

“UNB prides itself on being innovative and having real entrepreneurs with great, new ideas for the future. But the fossil-fuel industry has been around for about 200 years, this is the past. And I think that part of what we’re asking for is to move forward, follow through and come up with new solutions.”

Martin and Hansen believe that if UNB would divest from these oil extracting companies, this would provide other universities reason or courage to join the movement as well.

“People are putting their heads in the sand and they’re not realizing that [focusing on fossil fuel] isn’t a reality anymore. And so, we’re stuck in this inertia of not being open to new innovation and not being willing to allow for new ideas and new growth,” Hansen said.

Eventually, she hopes that politicians will feel pressured in making innovation of natural, renewable resources a priority instead of focusing on fossil-fuel development.

To help this movement, UNB students and faculty are encouraged to sign their petition and to follow Fossil Free UNB on Facebook for news of events or meetings.

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