Top Canadian lawyer Dimitri Lascaris (“one of the 50 most influential people in Canadian business” --Canadian Business Magazine) has teamed up with Toronto350.org to call on the University of Toronto to remove its investments from fossil fuel companies. On March 6th, Mr Lascaris will present a lecture to members of the UofT administration, faculty, and wider community that will outline why it is both ethically necessary and financially prudent for the University to divest.
The group will bring attention to the intergenerational nature of releasing carbon pollution—that by polluting the atmosphere now, the negative effects will largely be transferred onto future generations. The group argues that the university has a moral imperative to divest since anthropogenic climate change—driven by the primary operations of the fossil fuel industry —poses both an immediate risk to our society’s health and stability, as well as to the well-being of future generations. The group will also show that there is no evidence of divestment penalty for investors and will highlight the potential financial risk of continued investment in fossil fuels, referring to the “carbon bubble” — a theory supported by leading economists and many of the world’s largest banks and financial analysts.
At the moment, the price of shares of fossil fuel companies are largely calculated under the assumption that all of the company's fossil fuel reserves will be consumed. However, as countries around the world implement more and more restrictions on carbon pollution, many of these reserves may be unsaleable and it will be realized that share prices of fossil fuel companies are over-inflated. This “carbon bubble” is likely to be far larger than the 2008 housing bubble, and so it is vital that public institutions like the University of Toronto protect its holdings by getting out of the carbon sector before the bubble bursts.
The University of Toronto has embraced divestment initiatives on two occasions in the past: the first involving the apartheid regime of South Africa; the second involving the tobacco industry. The group calls for the university to show the same leadership it has done in the past and become the first Canadian higher education institution to divest from fossil fuels. In accordance with UofT’s Divestment Policy, Toronto350.org has produced a 190-page brief detailing why divestment is an effective and necessary response to the global threat of climate destabilization, which will be presented during the event on March 6th.
The Fossil Fuel divestment campaign has been endorsed by over 25 UofT campus groups, including the Student Unions that represent every member of the student body. The campaign has also received support from David Suzuki, David Miller, Naomi Klein, and many other prominent Canadian personalities and politicians.
Toronto350.org joins over 550 campus groups worldwide that are calling on their schools to divest. To date, nine universities and colleges have committed to divesting from fossil fuel companies, along with over 20 cities, and 18 private foundations. The Council of Canadians have also divested, and on February 24th, Trinity-St. Paul’s church in Toronto announced plans to divest, making it the first organization in Toronto to announce divestment, and the 23rd faith-based organization to join the movement.
The lecture and presentation will take place between 7-8pm on Thursday, March 6th in the Hart House Debates Room. There will be a Q&A session where questions from the press are welcome. Members of the press are also welcome to be present and photograph and/or record the event.
Lecture info: http://toronto350.org/events/presentation.php
Toronto Divestment Campaign supporters: http://toronto350.org/divest/support.php
Divestment Commitments: http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/
Divestment Campaigns: http://campaigns.gofossilfree.org/
Trinity-St Paul’s press release: http://www.trinitystpauls.ca/sites/default/files/TSP%20Divests%20from%20Fossil%20Fuels%20vFINAL.pdf
Toronto350.org is a local group that is part of the global 350.org network, which has a presence in over 180 countries around the world. “350” stands for 350 parts per million, the safe upper limit of carbon in the atmosphere.