Monday 26th September 2016                 Change text size:

Academics urge universities to join fossil fuel divestment movement



oil field sunlight by johnny choura via Flickr

A group of academics from around the world are urging all universities to join the fossil fuel divestment movement. Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) argues that universities have a “special duty” to take a stand on the issue and continuing to profit from fossil fuels is unethical.

ASAP is an international associated made up of around 2,000 academics that aims to help researchers and academics enhance their impact on poverty through a number of ways, such as promoting outreach to policymakers and advancing collaboration among poverty-focused academics.

In an online post the organisation has stated that it ”strongly supports” the growing divestment movement and applauds universities that have already made commitments to withdraw their investments out of dirty energy sources. It adds, “We urge all other universities to follow their lead.

The post notes that the UN climate summit, set to be held in Paris in December, is “probably our last chance to secure binding and meaningful emission reductions” and as a result action is becoming more urgent. While some countries have already submitted pledges ahead of the meeting, analysts have warned they do not go far enough.

ASAP points to previous research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which outlined a global carbon budget if the world is to stand a chance of limiting global warming to below 2C. At the world’s present rate, the carbon budget would be gone in just 25 years and if all known fossil fuel reserves were used the carbon created would be almost four times the budget outlined.

ASAP add, “The conclusion is strikingly clear: in the absence of decisive action, we are on track for catastrophic climate change. On our present course, climate change will wipe out crucial gains in development and poverty reduction in the global South, and will trigger food shortages, conflict, epidemic disease and mass displacement.”

The association argues that it is “paradoxical” for universities to continue profiting from fossil fuels, given that their aim should be to educate and produce leading research in order to better the future. To achieve this aim while profiting from the destruction of that future is “neither tenable nor ethical”, ASAP argues.

The academics add, “We believe that institutions of higher education have a special duty to take this stand. As academics, we are in the privileged position to understand the risks posed by climate change and to make powerful statement in support of action.”

Photo: johnny choura via Flickr

Further reading:

London assembly backs fossil fuel divestment

Fossil fuel divestment campaigns can help ‘stigmatise’ industry

UN backing fossil fuel divestment campaign

Guardian Media Group commits to divesting from fossil fuels

Students call on parents to divest from fossil fuels


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