We – academics and alumni of UNSW Australia – sign this statement as an act of conscience and fiscal responsibility, and ask our university to divest its direct and indirect holdings in fossil fuel corporations.
UNSW currently invests its endowment in the fossil fuel industry – an industry which continues to resist debate about alternative energy sources and criticises the established science of anthropogenic climate change.
We are already seeing destructive impacts of climate change, and rapid action is crucial if we are to mitigate potentially catastrophic scenarios. If we are to avoid an average increase in global mean temperature of 4˚C, we cannot afford to burn the 2,700 gigatons of carbon that the fossil fuel industry already has access to. If we are serious about limiting the impacts of climate change, society must reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. As a leading University within renewable energy research, UNSW can be at the forefront of this paramount global shift.
The fossil fuel status quo will not last. The industry is facing the combined pressure of restrictive pollution regulation in response to science, competition from clean technology on cost and the fastest growing stigmatisation campaign in history. Researchers from universities, such as Oxford, and commercial analysts alike are warning of stranded fossil fuel assets and structural investment readjustments. It is no longer a matter of if, but when. The carbon bubble will burst and in this dramatic shift UNSW can prosper on the right side of history, or it can hold to the other and suffer the consequences.
There are already fund managers responsible for portfolios both smaller and significantly larger than UNSW’s who are shifting their assets in response to this reality, in Australia and around the world. UNSW can lead the way in pragmatic screening of its investments for climate risk, both for simple self-interest and for the future of the communities that UNSW is involved in.
UNSW is a leader in research; we can also be a leader in sustainability. At this crucial time in history, we call for the University to take on its ethical and financial responsibility and divest from fossil fuels.