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May 15, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Auckland University called to Divest from Fossil Fuels

A Global Divestment Mobilisation took place May 5–13 in a stand against investment in fossil fuels. Protests took place in Wellington, Dunedin, Auckland, and Australia.

The mobilisation responded to growing concerns about government and institution investment in carbon-emitting fossil fuel activity, such as coal mining and gas exploration. It was run by the environmental group 350.org and sought to “solidify the association between climate impacts and the moral urgency to divest from fossil fuels.”

The mobilisation came in the wake of increasing pressure put on Auckland University to completely divest from fossil fuels. It is estimated that $1 million of the $108m in the University of Auckland Foundation was invested in the fossil fuel industry.

Fossil Free UoA, formed in 2015, has pointed to the contradiction between these investments and the express commitment to “the efficient management of energy […] and minimisation of waste and emissions” in the University of Auckland’s Sustainability Policy.

The group has petitioned Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon to commit to a complete divestment numerous times over the past two years.

VUW completely divested from fossil fuels in 2014, following staff and student pressure.

The VUW Foundation, which manages university investments, expressly includes in their Statement of Investment Policy the need to “[Make] known to our investment managers the specific industries or organisations that we do not wish to invest in. Our preference is that there be no direct investment in armaments, tobacco, gambling, or carbon-emitting fossil fuels.”

VUWSA President, Rory Lenihan-Ikin, took part in the Global Divestment Mobilisation in Wellington on May 9. He expressed a need for public pressure on Auckland University to commit to divestment.

“Students at VUW are proud of this strong stance being taken to protect our future, but students at Auckland University are not so lucky. Auckland students are doing a great job advocating for divestment and the best way we can help them is by making this issue a very public conversation.”

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