Where KPU Stands on Fossil Fuel Divestment

KSA representatives weigh in on the university’s progress towards divesting in the fossil fuel industry

The climate action group Extinction Rebellion UBC (XR UBC) ended their hunger strike after a statement outlining the university’s next steps for fossil fuel divestment and climate action was released. (submitted/ Ubyssey, Elizabeth Wang)

In a 2014 meeting, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Board of Governors made a decision not to divest in the fossil fuel industry.

The minutes from that meeting show that the VP Finance & Administration at the time, Gordon Lee, reported on both RBC Dominion’s and HSBC’s responses to the possibility of KPU divesting in the fossil fuel economy.

“Mr. Lee summarized the commentary advising that there is very little financial impact resulting from a divestment of fossil fuel investments or returns,” the minutes read. “The impact on KPU’s investments is not significant.”

However, the current president of the Kwantlen Student Association, David Piraquive, believes that “we need to start divesting from fossil fuels.”

“You see the effects that are happening nowadays, especially with climate change,” he says. “[It’s] definitely something that Kwantlen should start divesting from.”

Piraquive also says that creating a divestment club on campus could be an effective way to get KPU to make the switch.

In an email statement to The Runner, KPU President Alan Davis wrote that, “after consultation with the KPU community, the university updated its policy and procedures regarding investments in October 2019.”

“The update commits the university to developing Investment Procedures that will govern the management of the investment portfolio and take into consideration the principles of sustainability and responsible investing,” he wrote.

“Now that Policy FM2 has been adopted, work can begin to develop those investment procedures, but it is too early to say what will be included in them.”

The Investment Procedure policy refers to “the objectives, acceptable risk levels, liquidity levels, diversification, and quality of investments acceptable to the University.” The October update to FM2 may open up the possibility of divestment.

KSA Sustainability Coordinator Erin Pedersen says that the student association’s policy urges the president and board of governors to divest from publicly traded fossil fuel companies, and that the KSA as an organization does not have any investments in fossil fuel companies.

“As a sustainability coordinator, I definitely think that KPU has a responsibility to future generations. The purpose of the university is to educate young people so that they can have a bright future. I do think that having investments in the fossil fuel industry is perhaps not in alignment with the greater mission of the university,” says Pedersen.

“Now KPU has signed a letter committing to carbon neutrality by 2050 … so I think potentially a different response would be received now if a student-led divestment campaign does get up and running.”