Universities to address high-risk drinking
through collaborative initiative
Les universités mettent sur pied une initiative
contre la consommation d’alcool à risque
Nota bene Ce mois-ci This month
Activists want universities to stop
investing in fossil fuels
New student movement is growing at campuses across Canada
When individuals or large organizations, such
as universities, invest money in oil, gas or coal
companies, they’re supporting our society’s reliance on fossil fuels and keeping green energy
options on the sidelines. Or so goes the theory that
is driving the relatively new, but fast-moving,
student-initiated divestment movement in Canada.
“It’s so concrete and simple to grasp,” said
Kelsey Mech, a recent University of Victoria
environmental studies graduate, speaking of the
project’s resonance with students. “This is a
strong way to send a super-clear message that
we’re no longer interested in supporting fossil
fuel use. We want a different economy.” Ms.
Mech is the new executive director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, which is heading
up the student movement nationally.
The idea of influencing politics through
divesting shares in companies is not new: divest-
ment is widely considered to have been a factor
in ending South African apartheid, and some
Canadian universities no longer invest in tobacco
companies due in part to student pressure.
This latest divestment movement got its start
in Canada when Bill McKibben, a renowned U.S.
environmentalist, gave a keynote speech on the
topic at PowerShift, an activists’ “meet-up” in
Ottawa in October 2012. His words inspired a
group of students from McGill University to
draft a petition urging the university to redirect
money from the portion of its almost $1-billion
endowment that is invested in fossil fuels. Mean-
while, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
launched its Fossil Free Canada campaign in
January 2013, calling on individuals and institu-
tions to divest.
Today, student-led fossil-fuel divestment
Heavy oil mixes with water in an oilsands tailings
pond near Fort McMurray, Alberta.