Editorial: Fossil fuel divestment needs to happen in higher volume

File graphic Carl Bindman

Making an investment in fossil fuels is not a long-term sustainable option. Fossil fuels produce almost 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide that gets released into the atmosphere. The damage this does makes you wonder how long it will take before our world is affected beyond repair.

Université du Québec à Montréal was the first Canadian university to fully divest fossil fuels in 2017. Many other institutions have decided to follow suit, including Concordia University, who pledged to cut 100 per cent of fossil fuel investments by 2025. Not only that, but Concordia recently released a statement with plans to reduce 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Although it’s a leap in the right direction, divesting will not get rid of the climate problem our world faces.

There are cleaner alternatives to fossil fuel, such as hydrogen gas, natural gas, propane, and alcohols such as ethanol, methanol, and butano, which do not emit carbon dioxide. It is impossible to cut the use of damaging fuels in such a short amount of time, but institutions can stop spending their budgets on them and invest in cleaner options instead. 

Although it is great to see educational institutions move in the right direction, the five major Canadian banks are among the top 25 global banks to finance fossil fuels. That is billions of dollars being poured into something that needs to change. 

Vancity, a bank in Vancouver, is the only institution in the country with no financial stakes in fossil fuels. The only problem is that Vancity does not have the financial capability to rival the major Canadian players like TD, RBC, Scotiabank, BMO and CIBC.

Until banks get on board with the sustainability movement, the institutions that are defunding fossil fuel investments won’t maintain change on their own. Promoting clean energy therein acts as a token gesture, and does not actively implement anything positive.

This is not a question of money, it is a question of sustainability. There will be no environmental improvements if fossil fuel investments keep getting approved in high volumes. 

Understandably, it‘s infuriating to the new generation who feel little to no control over the way their future is being planned out. No matter the petitions, no matter the protests, and despite the constant outcry, nothing is changing. Younger generations shouldn’t be left out of conversations that will affect them the most in the long run.