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Dal keeps its millions in fossil fuels

Board of Governors votes against divestment despite prominent student campaign

Photo by Alexander Maxwell
Photo by Alexander Maxwell

As the fall semester came to end, so did the hope that Dalhousie would vote to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

On November 25, Dalhousie’s Board of Governors voted with a large majority to continue their fossil fuel investments. The final tally was 15 votes in favor of rejecting divestment, five votes for divestment and two abstentions.

After the results of the vote were announced, Divest Dal members and supporters stormed out of the meeting.

Since November 2013, the Divest Dalhousie group has been vocal in their demands that Dalhousie freeze their investments in fossil fuel companies. These investments now value $20.3 million, or 4.3% of the university’s total investment portfolio.

Dalhousie president Richard Florizone said that divestment would do “more harm than good.”

At the November 25 meeting, the BOG’s Investment Committee presented a report of their findings on how divestment would affect Dalhousie.

The argument was made that divestment would not only have negative ramifications for research grants, but also for students themselves and the ultimate student concern: finding work.

A report presented at the meeting read: “The message that will be sent to energy companies if we renounce investment in their firms will be that Dalhousie University does not have confidence in them.”

“This will inevitably lead to a steady decline in funding for university research and programs in many faculties and commensurate decline in career opportunities for students.”

Divest Dal’s campaign received widespread support both locally and nationally. A petition promoting divestment received over 2,000 signatures in Halifax alone.

Climate justice groups such as Divest Saint Mary’s, Divest McGill, Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change and U of Toronto 350 have all been vocal in their support of Divest Dal.

While the BOG chose not to divest, the Dalhousie Student Union voted in December to divest their portfolio of fossil fuels, which have a market value of $99,317.

At the time of publishing, the Gazette has not received a response from Divest Dal to inquiries about how they will continue to pursue divestment in the new semester.

Eleanor Davidson
Eleanor Davidson
Eleanor is the Gazette's News Editor.

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