My involvement in the campaign to convince the University of Toronto (U of T) to divest from stock holdings in fossil fuel companies has taken two main forms: working on the brief and engaging with the administration.
They have both raised my awareness about two things: that we have a growing band of influential supporters, calling for the transition to a climate-safe global economy, and that our professionalism, seriousness of purpose, strong scientific backing, and clear moral case add up to make influential people take us seriously. I have had a surprising number of meetings with people who immediately express their concern about climate change, and their determination to see U of T demonstrate leadership on it.
This hasn't been a campaign of fighting against an administration that has concluded reflexively that our demands are something they oppose. Rather, we have been successful in maintaining a consistent tone of dialog, reasonableness, and communication (including when it came to the excellent march and TSX action). The credibility of the overall campaign is a critical reason for that - alongside how we have a strong financial case to accompany the moral and environmental ones we make.
In all of the work I have seen done by Toronto350.org's amazing volunteers during this campaign, I have seen these strengths reflected. The people working on this campaign have a level of dedication, diplomatic skill, and raw organizing ability that has consistently impressed me and fed my growing conviction that we might convince U of T to take a stand against fossil fuel energy.
Once-reticent organizations like the World Bank and the International Energy Agency have begun to be more vocal about the dangers posed by the world's fossil fuel reserves, to say nothing of countless moral leaders around the world. While it can't happen quickly enough in response to a problem this concerning, the rise of the movement to control climate change has been impressive, encouraging, and a source of hope.