Sydney uni students vote to divest from fossil fuels

October 10, 2014

Fossil Free Sydney University released this statement on September 25.


In a historic referendum at the University of Sydney, voters overwhelmingly supported fossil fuel divestment. Eighty percent of the students demanded the Vice-Chancellor commit to divesting from fossil fuels.

In a first step last August the University froze further investment in all fossil fuels, pending review and consultation with stakeholders. Since then, all major student representative organisations have called upon the University to divest in full.

Fossil Free Sydney University spokesperson Clo Schofield said: "The University community is clear about this: we will not profit from climate change. Our university is more than sandstone, it is the people inside it. We call on management to divest from all fossil fuels.

"The University of Sydney prides itself upon its 6 star green rated buildings. However this is absurd if the University is promoting sustainability with one hand and funding climate change with the other.”

Newly elected Students Representative Council (SRC) president Kyol Blakeney said: "Over 80% of voters have called on the university to divest in a referendum of the University of Sydney Students' Representative Council.

"Management have begun the process by freezing their investments and initiating a review - this is a clear signal that it's time to fully embrace our role as a forward thinking, smart university and let go of dirty fossil fuels."

SRC President Jennifer Light, Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association President Timothy Scriven and University of Sydney Union President Tara Waniganayaka made a joint statement on behalf of the 60,000 students they represent, calling on the University to begin divesting immediately.

"Our university is a historic site of knowledge and progress. But our complicity in fossil fuels' detrimental effects on health, Australian agriculture, local economies, Aboriginal land and irreversible climate change has to end."

This announcement comes as the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne and the University of NSW also see student referendums result in landslide victories in favour of divestment.

The People’s Climate Mobilisation saw tens of thousands march in Australia and up to 400,000, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, march in New York. Even in the face of this, prime minister Tony Abbott refused to attend the UN Climate Summit on September 23.

“Our political leadership has failed to take effective action, demonstrating that they are lagging behind the Australian population and global scientific consensus,” said Schofield. “The University of Sydney can demonstrate leadership where the federal government has failed.”

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