February 28, 2018

University community calls on Vice-Chancellors to divest from coal, oil and gas at National Conference

Wednesday, February 28, 2018:  On the first evening of the Universities Australia Conference, staff, students and alumni stood together to call on universities to divest from coal, oil and gas, and power their campuses with 100% renewables.

About 60 people crowded into the foyer of the conference at the National Convention Centre in Canberra at 6pm last night, holding banners and signs of the universities they attended or graduated from.

Bella Himmelreich from student-led group Fossil Free Unis spoke at the rally alongside NTEU president Jeannie Rea, and Phil Waine from Dalton – a community that managed to stop a proposed AGL gas plant.

“Universities exist to educate Australia’s future leaders, but right now our universities are putting that future at risk by investing in fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.” Bella Himmelreich, Fossil Free Unis.

“In a time where our governments are doing everything they can to slow action on climate change we need leaders in our communities to step up. We want the Vice-Chancellors of Australian universities to take a stand for the future, and lead with us by divesting from fossil fuels.” Bella Himmelreich, Fossil Free Unis.

Representatives from Australian universities will gather together in Canberra over the next two days to discuss ‘Future Fundamentals’, the theme of the conference.

“As a young person studying at university, there is nothing more fundamental to my future than acting on climate change. We know that fossil fuel companies have caused immense damage to our communities, our environment and our climate. Universities are complicit in this destruction if they continue to invest their money in the companies causing climate change.” Bella Himmelreich.

Many universities are already taking the lead and divesting, such as La Trobe and Queensland University of Technology. Universities like Monash, and UNSW have also made great first steps with ambitious plans to repower their campuses with 100% renewables.

“However, universities can’t have it both ways – if they’ve made the step of avoiding burning fossil fuels then they shouldn’t be investing in them either. By investing in the problem universities undercut their own sustainability initiatives.” Jackson Turner, 350.org Australia.

Globally over 800 institutions, representing more than $6 trillion, have decided to take a stand and divest from fossil fuels. This includes a third of UK universities, and major cities such as New York and Paris.

Contact for further information or interviews:

Jackson Turner on  0422 171 345, email jackson@350.org.au

Bella Himmelreich on  0421 737 297, email  bella@350.org.au

Images for the rally are available here