By Divest McGill

On December 5th, 2019, the Board of Governors refused to divest (withdraw $) from coal, oil and gas – the industries that actively fuel the climate crisis and profit off its social harm.

Here’s what you need to know.
1. The decision came out during finals – but Divest was there. Important Board meetings always occur during exam season (how convenient!). And yet, Divest launched its new website and the #PaidByMcGill video that week, and organized an art reveal as well as a rally. We also made ourselves heard in person in the Board’s room.

2. The Board went against its own mandate by refusing to consider the *social injury* caused by fossil fuel companies. Remember the invasion of the Wet’suwet’en territory by the RCMP to force the construction of TC Energy’s pipeline? McGill invests $5.4 million in that company. This is the kind of social injury they choose to ignore.

3. This was the third time the Board refused to divest. Students and faculty at McGill have been mobilizing, petitioning, organizing rallies and sit-ins and voting major endorsements since 2012.

4. The chair of the Board’s committee in charge of the decision, Cynthia Price-Verreault, has worked… 18 years for Petro Canada. yeah. eighteen. years.

5. The Board wants to greenwash its endowment fund. Instead of divestment, McGill committed to “decarbonization”. The difference? Decarbonization is measured with highly problematic metrics which stop short of measuring the carbon emitted by fossil fuels when they are consumed – how convenient for Enbridge, TC Energy and friends, right? Ah! And the Board will tell you about “socially responsible investment” and Environment, Social,
and Governmental (ESG) criteria… sounds good until you realize that it’s largely based on data provided by the companies themselves, still allowing McGill to prioritize profit.

6. A tenured professor resigned over the university’s decision. After years of active organizing for divestment, including through the University Senate, professor Greg Mikkelson explained his decision to leave in January 2020
saying “it boiled down to a matter of conscience”.

7. It’s doable: other universities are divesting. Concordia, UQAM and UBC have already divested, along with many other institutions worldwide, including most recently Oxford. Too late for McGill to be the first Canadian university to divest – here’s to hoping it won’t be the last.

8. Divest had a lot to say – and we made ourselves heard. Being told “no” a third time was frustrating, but we’re certainly not stopping now. Since December, Divest members have been working hard both behind the scenes and in front of the stage – doing research, getting our message out to the press and organizing protests. We even occupied the James administration building for a day, to protest against the Coastal GasLink and Teck frontier projects.

9. Why does it matter? Divestment is a tactic for social and climate justice. It’s one of the many steps that institutions
with power must take to end extractivist, colonial projects that disregard Indigenous sovereignty and threaten livelihoods, land, water and our global climate, such as tarsand mine development and pipeline construction.

10. You decide what happens next. This is a movement, and it needs all of us. Join your voice to ours in helping shape
a fossil-free future for our university: whether it’s chanting at a rally, sharing our message on social media or attending our weekly meetings throughout the school year, we need every hand on deck. Find us on Facebook or read
more about our mission at Reach out!