SFU publishes controversial draft revision to Responsible Investment Policy regarding fossil fuel divestment

The University community has until July 31st to submit feedback on the amendment

Burnaby, BC (July 7, 2016) — SFU’s Responsible Investment Committee (RIC) – a standing committee of the Board of Governors – is seeking feedback on a controversial draft amendment to the University’s Responsible Investment Policy (B10.16).

According to the University, the amendment, titled section 5.5 Divestment, provides a framework whereby the Committee would review and respond to divestment requests received from the University community, which may be submitted due to possible environmental, social or governance concerns with University investments.

The overall response from the community has been negative, with critics arguing that the University purposely designed the revision to make divestment all but impossible.

In its current form, the policy states that SFU will only consider divestment if the following criteria are met: the entity in question receives more than 10 percent of its revenues from an activity that injures people or the environment; SFU makes up a significant proportion of the entity’s market capitalization; and if evidence exists to that divestment will produce a positive outcome.

Divest SFU, the coalition supporting divestment, is urging students to take advantage of the opportunity for feedback and tell the University that the draft revision does not adequately reflect the views of the student body – a body that has been particularly supportive of fossil fuel divestment.

Raaj Chatterie, President of SFU 350, said that “divestment is a powerful tool that can take social license away from unethical companies and projects. While SFU's community consultation on its Divestment policy is encouraging, we have yet to see real progress on ensuring a divestment process based on science, ethics, and our goals as a university.”

Other groups across the university shared similar thoughts.

“This draft revision is in stark contrast to recent progress made by SFU regarding climate change,” said Josh Cairns, executive director of Embark (SFU’s student-led sustainability society and part of Divest SFU). “The revision suggests that the University is comfortable investing in an entity that profits from harming people or the environment – as long as the entity’s revenue from harmful activity is below an arbitrary 10 percent threshold, and as long others are also investing in the entity.”

Embark has provided their analysis of the policy revision on their website, and are encouraging students to review the analysis to inform their feedback to SFU. Members of the University community have until July 31st to submit their comments to Jacky Shen, Director of Treasury.

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Josh Cairns
Executive Director, Embark
WMC 2623, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby BC  V5A 1S6
w: (778) 782-4209  //  c: (778) 316-9892
e: josh@embarksustainability.org

Olivia Hui
External Relations Officer, Embark
E: olivia@embarksustainability.org


Draft Responsible Investment Policy Revision B10.16 – SFU Draft Policies

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