MacGreenInvest has it roots in a student led group called Fossil-free McMaster, which began in 2013.
In the autumn of 2015, students submitted a petition signed by 897 people and Jim Quinn and Atif Kubursi penned a letter to the administration of McMaster University including over 100 faculty signatures. That letter requested divestment of endowment funds from the top 100 coal and top 100 oil and gas investments (https://gofossilfree.org/top-200/), making the arguments that:
- Already have 5 x proven fossil fuel reserves needed to exceed 2oC increase
- Moral argument not to invest in destruction of climate as an educational institution
- Noted that taking away social license is symbolic (like divestment over apartheid)
- Carbon bubble argument that with conversion to green energy, fossil fuel investment value will tank
After meeting with McMaster President Patrick Deane it was decided that Dr. Deane would strike a committee to evaluate the possibility of divestment of McMaster’s endowment funds. The committee (President’s Advisory Committee on Fossil Fuel Divestment – PACFFD) hosted a town hall meeting to measure the interest in divestment on campus. The town hall attracted a low turnout, perhaps due to limited advertising. A survey was sent out by the committee and the results were included in the final report. The committee published its report with 12 recommendations in 2015 (https://www.mcmaster.ca/vpacademic/PACFFD/PACFFD_Report-Final(23Oct2017.pdf).
A review of the report found it to be flawed and a letter by Jim Quinn and Atif Kubursi was sent to administration, pointing out that the report appeared to have been written to support a negative position without fair evidence. The letter claimed that the survey was interpreted unfairly.
In response to the letter from Quinn and Kubursi, Dr. Deane accepted all but the first recommendation of the PACFFD committee report. The first recommendation was “ McMaster should not commit to a full divestment from the 200 listed fossil fuel companies, but should rather pursue a number of measures as outlined below.“
Reviving the Campaign
In November of 2018 a group of faculty met to consider how best to revive the campaign and improve the chances of success. At this and a few follow-up meetings we decided to go beyond the usual call for divestment, and demand a positive alternative to investment in fossil fuels. Investment in sustainable green energy was the obvious choice and the campaign was rebranded “MacGreenInvest”. We launched a change.org petition in August, 2019.
Given the existential threat of climate change and the mandate of the university to train the generations that will be highly impacted, and given the imperative (ethical and environmental) that fossil fuel extraction must wind down rather than expand, we the undersigned ask that the McMaster University Board of Governors pledge to divest endowment investments from fossil fuel companies and reinvest those funds in exclusively green-energy companies within 1 year.”
The actual petition can be found at http://chng.it/jvjqR6N5.