Alex Tyrrell wrote the following letter to Concordia President Alain Shepard urging him to divest the University’s funds from the fossil fuel industry.
To: Dr. Alan Shepard – President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia University
Subject: Divestment from Fossil Fuels
As a student in Environmental Science at Concordia University and the leader of the Green Party of Québec, I would like to take a moment to voice my support for a student-lead divestment campaign aimed at the numerous holdings that the Concordia Foundation has made in the unethical fossil fuel industry.
As you know, global climate change, as well as the toxic pollution associated with all types of fossil fuel extraction, transport, and combustion are well-known global health threats to both human beings and the planet we live on. If we do not change our ways in the near future we may never be able to avert catastrophic climate change effects such as sea level rise, extreme weather events and the extinction of a large number of species.
In this era, we cannot say with certainty that the earth will be a livable place in the next few hundred years.
Concordia University has the potential to become the first Canadian university to divest from fossil fuels. This is an opportunity for Concordia to make history at an international level and to distinguish itself from other institutions by sending a clear message that our institution is on the forefront of the fight against global warming and the need to move away from fossil fuels.
Some of your recent statements on fossil fuel divestment show that you do not fully understand the reasoning behind the divestment campaign. For example you have openly stated that the university would consider divestment only if it is shown that sustainable and ethical investments perform as well as the unsustainable, and grossly unethical investments the university currently holds in the oil and gas industry.
In life there are many ways to be financially rewarded for engaging in unethical behaviour.
The principle of divestment is taking the moral high ground, and saying no to fossil fuels for ethical reasons. While the Concordia University Foundation may be positioned to profit off an unethical industry that threatens our future they have a responsibility not to do so. Contrary to some of the more corporate thinking not every single decision the university makes needs to come back to the bottom line of it’s bank account. If the endowment funds produce slightly less revenue because they choose the moral high ground so be it.
In this modern age, Concordia has a responsibility to act. Please reconsider your position and recommend that the Concordia Foundation’s board of directors divest from fossil fuels immediately, regardless of the financial consequences.
Leader of the Green Party of Québec