On 13th and 14th February people all over the world will demand public institutions to divest from the fossil fuel industry. It is the first Global Divestment Day. From South Africa to the USA, from Australia to Malaysia people will push their campaigns further. There will be big flagship actions in major cities in Europe, such as in Amsterdam, Berlin, London and Stockholm. But, it is not only in the major cities that people will take actions to demand public institutions to no longer invest in fossil fuels and climate destruction. All over the Netherlands people will take actions and target public institutions such as universities, municipalities and the national ABP pensionfund. Check this map and see where the actions take place. Here is a selection of actions.
The founder of EURfossilfree, Vatan Hüzeir, wrote a letter, with the support of various EUR staff members, about a year ago to the Executive Board of the Erasmus University Of Rotterdam. The Executive Board supports the initiative and asked EURfossilfree to write a research proposal to investigate the qualitative and quantitative ties between the EUR and the fossil fuel industry. Aside from this EURfossilfree will raise awareness regarding divestment of fossil fuels and investment in renewables in education, research and operational management.
Germain Fraser, the EURfossilfree coordinator says: ‘The GDD will undoubtedly accelerate the awareness about divesting in fossil fuels at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam’! People should come to the carbon bubble discussion event on Friday the 13th of because ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world ’ Last but not least he is motivated because:‘Fighting for a better world for the generations to come is a fight worth fighting for’!
Fossil Free Utrecht at Utrecht Universiteit
Fossil Free UU is now tired of being ignored by their own University, it’s time to raise awareness about our cause and to make our voices heard. Thus, in the weeks leading up to the Global Divestment Day we have been planning several actions aimed to gain more visibility in our city. Firstly, we went viral with an online petition shared via 350.org which reached in 2 days more than 100 signatures! Secondly, we are contacting lecturers, professors and faculty members to organize collective teach-in to spark fruitful discussions between the UU students regarding the moral as well as financial issues behind the UU direct and indirect investments in fossil fuel companies. Last, but not least, on the 13th of February our team will hold a “die-in” at the Stadhuisbrug in Utrecht city centre. In a nutshell, we will symbolically die together for the sake of our planet in an oil spill. Basically a sort of performance-city action with which we want to shake up the citizen of Utrecht and confront them with the consequences of the climate change. Indeed we are planning on creating banners with facts and figures that give some background information about the carbon bubble and the Fossil Free movement. Eleonora Mazzoli is inspired by a quote from Desmond Tutu for Global Divestment Day : “It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet!”
After over a year, two letters and only a vague answer form the board the Fossil Free UvA& HvA group wants the board to acknowledge the campaign. By now, more than 200 students signed their postcards and outlined their reasons why the UvA should divest from fossil fuels. The group is making use of the Global Divestment Day to publicly invite the board to a sustainability event planned for the end of March. On GDD itself they plan to stand outside the office of the College van Bestuur with a huge invitation to get their attention.
Catalina von Hildebrand, Fossil Free UvA& HvA Coordinator: “GDD provides an opportunity to draw attention to the campaign as a whole and to local actions, we will make use of the coverage to request involvement from the university´s board.”
DivestVU at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
The VU campaign celebrated some successes recently. DivestVU met the Board of Directors before Christmas and has a meeting scheduled with the VU-association. Thomas Gallas, DivestVU coordinator says: “Global Divestment Day is a great opportunity to raise the awareness about our campaign at the VU and bring the issue closer to the students.” DivestVU has two strategies for that day. The group contacted about 1.000 professors via emails and asked them to hold teach-ins about the impacts of the carbon bubble from various perspectives, such as economic, political and natural sciences. Some professors said they would briefly discuss the subject in class, while others invited the members of DivestVU to give a short presentation. At the same time the department of Earth and Life Science will host a career day on February 13th. DivestVU seizes this opportunity to spread the message Fossil fuels = history, Renewables = future. Simultaneously DivestVU will raise awareness about the VU-University’s investments in the fossil fuel industry that we would like to see ended because of moral and economic considerations.
FossilfreeWageningen at Wageningen Universiteit and Research Center
FossilFreeWageningen hit a dead end recently after talks with the university revealed a set strategic plan for the next 3 years that makes it difficult for the campaign to be heard. Therefore, Rebecca Bliken and Mingue Marner of FF Wageningen said: “Now is the time to mobilize students to persuade the WUR policy makers to include the FF Wageningen objectives. Global Divestment Day will help our campaign to gain more visibility!”
FF Wageningen is planning to do a photo action at the iconic entrance of the University on Global Divestment Day. At least 22 students will each hold up a letter to make the statement ‘Divest: for quality of life’. Hereby we play with the university’s official slogan “For quality of life”.
This picture will be used to show strength in numbers and will herald the start of a series of events to increase awareness & FossilFree visibility and to encourage students to take action against Climate Change!
The ABP pension fund is the fourth largest pension fund in the world. The total value of its high-carbon endowments such as those in the fossil fuel energy industry is more than €30 billion. This is highly debatable in light of climate change and from a fiduciary point of view. Not only do we think it’s bad to profit from wrecking the climate, we also believe ABP’s fossil fuel investments run the risk of becoming stranded assets in the foreseeable future. With our pensions at risk, we demand the pension fund divests from fossil fuels. Other pension funds have already understood these problems and boldly done so in different ways. Just last week it became known that the second largest pension fund of the world, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), removed 32 coal mining companies from its portfolio in 2014.
Vatan Hüzeir, member of the ABP fossielvrij campaign says: “As more and more expert asset managers of institutional investors choose the road of divestment, the question rises: why ABP doesn´t listen to a growing group of financial experts and divest as well?” Therefore ABP fossielvrij will take action on the Global Divestment Day and travel to The Hague. There they will ask ABP employees to make a choice between a climate change-resilient future and healthy pensions instead of a climate run amok and pensions prone to busting.
Thanks a lot to Germain Fraser, Catalina von Hildebrand, Thomas Gallas, Mingue Marner, Rebecca Bliklen, Eleonora Mazzoli and Vatan Hüzeir for contributing to this blog.