NUIG becomes latest University to divest in fossil fuels

Credit: Ventilux

A NUI Galway campaign hoping to see divestment away from fossil fuels by the end of 2017 has been backed by the university’s board after a campaign which lasted almost 18 months.

NUIG’s Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Society initiated an investigation into its University’s €3.4 million investment in fossil fuels, starting in November 2015.

The society’s report on the unsustainable investment was ignored by the local council, apart from the support of Independent TD Catherine Connolly.

“They thought we were trying to turn the lights out on NUIG,” Colm Duffy, auditor of the society and director of the Fossil Free Campaign said.

The campaign was finally backed and partly promoted by the President of the University, Dr Jim Browne, on September 28th 2016. The petition was submitted with over 1,000 signatures and accepted on to the University board 5 months later.

“I am delighted that NUI Galway has taken a leadership position nationally in promoting such an ethical investment policy,” he said.

NUIG hopes to push the government to fund public divestment in fossil fuels. This could be achieved by using tax break funds, worth an overall €2 billion.

“NUIG wants to take part in a more sustainable world with students as global leaders,” Duffy said.

TCD became fossil-fuel-free just three months before NUIG, each enduring 15-month and 18-month campaigns respectively.  UCD is allegedly having issues with getting through to the University board, despite entry to the scene on the same issue at a similar time.

TCD’s earlier success greatly helped the CCAFS Society in their campaign, and with DCU Eco Society in need of less than 50 more signatures to reach their Fossil Free target, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

DCU currently places 27th on the Green Matrix system of ranking, a sustainability and eco-friendliness ranking for universities worldwide. UCC holds 12th place in the 2016 rankings, with UL in 22nd place. NUIG and TCD have yet to reach the rankings.

NUIG will be hosting the 3rd annual Climate Congress on Divestment and Sustainable Investment on Tuesday March 21st.

Sabrine Donohoe

Image Credit: Ventilux