For more than two years, Toronto350.org has been working to convince the University of Toronto (U of T) to sell their stock holdings in the 200 fossil fuel companies around the world with the largest reserves of coal, oil, and gas. Redirecting investment is essential for preserving a safe climate, and smart investors increasingly need to take climate change into account when assessing risks.
U of T is poised to become the first University in Canada to divest from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel divestment will make national news and build momentum for more universities in Canada to divest. But we need your help to do it. U of T has formed a committee on fossil fuel divestment, which will consider the question for a year and make a recommendation to the president. Toronto350.org will support campus divestment through the establishment of campus 350 groups. Join this campaign to help organize immediate pressure on the committee, to support student activism, and engage more on-campus youth in our movement.
Want to help?
To start with, you can sign our petition calling on President Gertler to divest.
Share this page and email it to your friends! There is also a PDF version of this petition available for download, in order to print and collect paper copies. If you do so, please make sure to send them to us!
Prominent U of T alumni and public figures support this campaign, as well as several U of T organizations:
More than 200 faculty members and librarians have endorsed an open letter supporting the campaign at: uoftfacultydivest.com
Brief Presentation by Dimitri Lascaris
Toronto lawyer Dimitri Lascaris helped us formally present the divestment brief to the President of the University of Toronto:
Download the 'Brief'
The brief itself took almost a year to prepare, with close to 20 authors contributing. The final version is 190 pages, and goes into great depth making the case for divestment. It is structured to specifically address the UofT Divestment Policy (PDF). To get a good idea of what the brief discusses, we recommend reading the Executive Summary, and Chapter 7: FAQ. A shorter version of the FAQ is available online. If you wish for more in-depth information about a particular topic, please read the appropriate chapter.
The final brief has now been completed and presented to the ad hoc committee. It is available as a PDF: The Fossil Fuel Industry and the Case for Divestment: Update.The front cover is a separate file.
The Brief Structure:
- Executive Summary
- Climate Change is settled science
- The activities of fossil fuel companies are socially injurious, and this social injury cannot be reasonably remedied through shareholder voice
- Divestment is compatible with the university's fiduciary duties
- Actions have been taken by the Canadian government and international bodies on this issue
- Why start with Royal Dutch Shell?
- Short answers to common questions
- Questions from the ad hoc committee
- Sources cited
- Appendix I: Issues with respect to university divestment
- Appendix II: The 200 companies with the largest fossil fuel reserves
- Appendix III: Errata
What is the 'Divestment Brief' for?
In order to avoid dangerous climate change, the world needs to redirect investment from fossil fuels to alternative forms of energy that are compatible with climate safety.
The University of Toronto is heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry. Governments and organizations around the world have recognized warming of 2˚C as the threshold where climate change will become dangerous. If we want to stay below that limit, we can emit no more than 565 billion tonnes (gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide. Global fossil reserves contain 2,795 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, more than enough to drive humanity off the 2˚C trajectory.
Investment in fossil fuel corporations such as Shell drives the consumption of fossil fuel reserves which MUST remain underground in order to avoid dangerous climate change.
U of T has divested before, both from the tobacco industry, and from companies supporting Apartheid. For more about the effectiveness of divestment, have a look at gofossilfree.org/faq.
The President’s Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels has advised President Gertler to divest!
In December 2015, the university's committee on divestment adjourned. Read their final report here: http://www.president.utoronto.ca/report-of-the-advisory-committee-on-divestment-from-fossil-fuels
We subsequently issued a Community Response to the committee's report. More information can be found here: http://www.toronto350.org/response