The student led campaign to make the University of Toronto the first Canadian University to divest fossil fuel holdings will rally to show they do not accept University of Toronto President Meric Gertler’s decision to reject his own committee’s recommendation for targeted fossil fuel divestment. His decision disregards the overwhelming student and faculty support for divestment from the Faculty Association and all major campus student unions. The President instead announced that he is asking the University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation (UTAM) to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment factors that do not guarantee any meaningful divestment from fossil fuel firms.


    Following a year of review, the President’s expert committee concluded last December that, “fossil fuel firms engaging in activities that blatantly disregard the 1.5-degree threshold are engaging egregiously in socially injurious behaviour [...] The University should, in a targeted and principled manner, divest from its direct holdings in such firms.” In response to the President’s decision, eight members of his expert committee critiqued the President’s rejection of their recommended strategy of targeted divestment, which became internationally known as the "Toronto Principle,"; In an op-ed, they said "The question is not whether climate change makes investments riskier in a fiduciary sense and thus excludable from the university’s investment portfolios. The question is whether the university should be investing in companies that are causing egregious social injury when alternative investments could also meet the University’s fiduciary duties. ESG principles and disclosure initiatives cannot provide guidance on this more important question. The Toronto Principle provides such guidance."


     In response to President Gertler’s rejection, the student led divestment campaign and supporters are demanding that the President implement the committee’s recommendation. Today at 3:45 pm, students, faculty and community members will be gathering to protest the President’s decision outside of a Governing Council meeting at Simcoe Hall. “For more than 30 years, my parents’ generation has failed to make any meaningful progress on this issue. Our inaction is denying future generations and frontline populations around the world their security, dignity, and livelihoods,” said Clement Cheng, a first year student and divestment organizer. “Students at UofT will not accept the President’s decision,” said Sinead Dunphy, a student and UofT350 organizer, “We asked for divestment and instead President Gertler chose to reject his committee’s recommendation and misleadingly frame his decision as climate leadership. We asked our President if he cared enough about our future to take clear, bold action and he failed us.”  


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Amanda Harvey-Sanchez        Cell: 647-267-9838          Email: amandahs@toronto350.org

Clement Cheng                        Cell: 647-938-3284          Email: ckw.cheng@mail.utoronto.ca

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