Divestment in fossil fuels has turned into one of the fastest-growing protest campaigns. For students around the world this means holding their universities to account. We hear from the team at Fossil Free UQ (University of Queensland) on the importance of the fossil free movement.
What is the aim of Fossil Free UQ?
The aim of Fossil Free UQ is to get the university to divest from the fossil fuel industries (coal, petroleum, gas etc.) that are driving climate change. This involves an immediate freeze on all new investments and the phasing out of all current investments over the next five years.
The overarching aim of the Fossil Free movement is to stigmatise fossil fuels so that supporting the industry becomes socially unacceptable. We want greater accountability from our public institutions, and we want them to invest our money into financially, socially and environmentally responsible ventures.
Why is it important Universities divest from fossil fuels?
UQ is responsible for educating the next generation of professionals, but it is compromising our future by investing in an industry that is driving climate change. It is unethical to capitalise on an industry that is destroying the climate for nothing more than short-term economic gain.
Rather than burying it’s head in the sand, the university needs to set an example by acknowledging that we need to stop burning fossil fuels and thus we must invest our money elsewhere.
Why do you need student input?
The whole movement is composed of pro-active, dedicated individuals working together for something they believe is truly important. It is run for students by students, so student input is absolutely crucial!
This is the means through which we can make our concerns about climate change heard and to institute real change with regard to how public institutions like UQ are spending our money. We also need to ensure the future of our jobs, and investing in an industry that has an expiry date is not the best way to go about that!
As students and young people, we will inherit this planet, and we need the input of everybody to ensure that it remains habitable for the generations to follow.
How can students help?
All hands on deck! This is a broad campaign and we need the help of people from all backgrounds and disciplines – this means lawyers, economists, ecologists, sociologists, engineers, scientists (not only environmental), artists, journalists, doctors, physicists, psychologists and citizens. Everyone is necessary to build a movement and everyone can help!
UQ, QUT and Griffith all have Fossil Free groups – the best way to get in touch is through our Facebook pages – these have all the information about the campaign as well as the details of upcoming meetings and events.
What are your plans for the future of Fossil Free UQ?
Fossil Free UQ met with representatives of Vice-Chancellor Høj in early March – we are still waiting on a letter containing his response to determine our next course of action.
In the meantime, the focus is on gaining momentum within the university community – we are working with the support of other student bodies to raise awareness about divestment. We recently obtained the official support of the UQ Union which is very exciting!
Join the cause!
Relevant links for further information:
Fossil Free Unis: http://gofossilfree.org.au/fossil-free-unis/
Fossil Free UQ: https://www.facebook.com/uqfossilfree
Fossil Free QUT: https://www.facebook.com/fossilfreequt
Fossil Free Griffith: https://www.facebook.com/FossilFreeGriffith