Divest MTA calls for environmental justice

Mt. A students gather on campus to strike against the University’s fossil fuel investments

Mt. A is ranked the number one primarily undergraduate school in all of Canada by Maclean’s Magazine, with many of its students studying in the environmental sciences. Ironically, the University’s current emission reduction plan (Policy 2101) is inadequate as they continue to invest in fossil fuels. Despite its programs that shed light on climate change, its environmentally aware community, and endorsements of divestment from MASU and MAFA, local activists are still urging the school to reduce their carbon footprint for the sake of their future.

Divest MTA’s presence at Mt. A is far from new, in fact, the movement has been going on for over a decade. Even after years of activists raising their voices, speaking on behalf of the climate crisis, and demanding that the University divest, there have been limited victories. “While Mt. A has made some positive steps toward decarbonization on campus and its investments, we believe that these steps are not enough, and that a deeper structural shift is required in order to achieve true climate justice,” says member of Divest MTA, Mikko McGregor Corson. “Time and time again, we have been told by the administration that either they would prefer to advocate for environmental concerns through shareholder engagement with the companies that are destroying the Earth or they have tried to placate our demands by discussing limited other progress the university has made.” The group and its supporters are ramping up their physical presence, making larger calls for environmental action through protests that are part of the international movement, “Fridays for Future.” 

Countless students have voiced their personal opinions on the matter. They are disappointed in the 8 million dollars of university funds, much of which is the students’ tuition money, being put into endowment toward the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel corporations. Fossil fuels make up 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, making it the top driver of global warming. The future of the planet’s climate greatly depends on emission reductions by large-scale companies, such as the ones that Mt. A is currently investing in. Corson states, “the fossil fuel industry is not only environmentally disastrous, but it is part of an ongoing legacy of capitalism and colonialism that perpetuated the oppression of marginalized communities locally and globally.” The University’s disengagement from these corporations, along with the numerous others feeding into them, could significantly change the world. Environmental awareness must be spread, even at a local level.

On Friday, March 15, members of Divest MTA, along with a crowd of university students, faculty, staff, community members, and even local high schoolers gathered outside the R. P. Bell Library at 10:30 a.m. After the group was taught some chants, they raised their voices and placards, marched around campus, and spread their powerful message. The goals of the strike were to demand that Mt. A work harder in accomplishing their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, a net zero action plan, and a complete divestment of endowment funds toward fossil fuels. The group had shared poems, speeches, and engaged with an interactive protest art piece depicting connections between the community, as well as the complexity and reciprocity of current global climate issues. “People shared frustrations, advice, and solidarity with other movements including the Palestinian liberation and feminism,” says Corson. To finish, the protesters peacefully walked up each floor of Centennial Hall, voicing their requests toward Mt. A Corson expresses the future of Divest MTA following the March 15 protest. “-we are expanding our demands and Divest has begun to call for wider climate justice and action from Mt. A.”

Despite the demands of Divest MTA being disregarded over the last decade, the group’s ever-growing presence at Mt. A may push the University to work toward a carbon neutral campus in the future. Numerous universities in Atlantic Canada have already adapted clear and fully developed emission reduction policies, with some actively committing to sustainability and decarbonization. Mt. A remains off this list, with its financial administration refusing to make changes up to this point. The voices of local activists will continue to exist on campus and around the Tantramar municipality until demands have been acknowledged. The environmental and social future of the world depends on fossil fuel divestment.

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