Fossil Free UTas began a sit-in on October 14 outside the office of University of Tasmania's vice-chancellor, Peter Rathjen. The sit-in lasted a marathon 15 days.
The University of Tasmania has not yet committed to divesting from fossil fuels, but negotiations between the university and Fossil Free UTas are now underway.
The sit-in gained community awareness and support for the campaign. The students received national and international media attention, and their actions sparked similar campaigns in other parts of the country.
Fossil Free UTas spokesperson Mell Jones said: “UTas is globally renowned for its leadership on climate research. It was just awarded a $26 million grant for Antarctic research, but there won't be any ice left to study if it and other institutions keep investing in fossil fuels.
“It looks bad for a world-leading climate research institution to have fossil fuel investments on its books. UTas's reputation is on the line.
“Climate change is affecting people now. We're already seeing people being affected by rising sea levels in the low lying Pacific Islands like Kiribati and Tuvalu and here in Australia, the fire season is starting earlier.
“We are frustrated after two years of patient and peaceful campaigning that the university refuses to do the right thing and divest its $300 million investment portfolio from fossil fuels.
“We will continue campaigning until UTas divests from fossil fuels.”
You do not have to be a student or in Tasmania to participate. There are Fossil Free campaigns Australia-wide working to ensure banks, universities and superannuation funds divest from fossil fuels.
More information on fossil free campaigns in your area, and how to start one, here.