A motion calling on Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) to support a campaign to call on College to divest from fossil fuels was passed by a wide margin at a council meeting of the union this evening.
The passing of then motion, which was proposed by Colm Tong, an Ordinary Committee Member of Trinity’s Environmental Society, means TCDSU will join the society’s campaign for Trinity to end its investments, and that of its subsidiaries, in the fossil fuel industry.
A freedom of information request seen by The University Times has revealed that Trinity, as of June 30th, had €6.1 million indirectly invested in oil-related stocks, a figure which equates to 3.5 per cent of the total value of Trinity’s endowment fund.
The passing of the motion tonight at Council will now mean that TCDSU can begin actively campaigning on the issue. Speaking to The University Times recently, Lynn Ruane, TCDSU President, expressed her support for a campaign that can initiate “a serious conversation about divesting away from fossil fuels”.
Maya Gryesten Fields, a member of the College’s Green Campus Committee, spoke on behalf of Tong at council this evening, emphasising the importance of a divestment campaign in combating the impacts of climate change.
Emphasising that we are “witnessing the impact of global warming more frequently”, Fields stated that divestments campaigns were about redressing the detrimental impact on the environment of fossil fuel companies, telling council: “The cost of climate change is not being shared equally”.
In recent years divestment campaigns have grown rapidly around the world, with numerous organisations such as The Guardian Media Group and the Church of England announcing this year that they will divest in fossil fuels. Indeed, in June, Norway announced that the country’s government pension fund will divest the majority of its assets from the coal industry.
Students have been at the forefront of divestment campaigns in universities around the world. In 2012, Harvard students launched the “Divest Harvard” campaign, with the aim of forcing the university to withdraw its $11.8 million investment in fossil fuels. However, Harvard has continued to directly invest in fossil fuels, increasing its investments to around $79.5 million, despite the continued protests across the university.
Since then, the movement has continued to grow, with numerous universities, such as the University of Oxford and the University of Glasgow, pledging to divest to at least some degree in recent years. In May, the University of Edinburgh promised to divest in three of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers within six months, after students engaged in a ten-day sit in of the university’s finance department.
Speaking to The University Times recently, Aine O’Gorman, Chair of Environment Society, reiterated that divestment campaigns were crucial in ending our reliance on fossil fuels: “Every single institution that divests sends a message to fossil fuel companies saying ‘No, you have to stop’”.