Student group campaigning for the University of Tasmania to divest from fossil fuels

Contributed by Ben Wilson

At the University of Tasmania, a student run volunteer group, called Fossil Free UTas, is actively encouraging the university to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

There is no doubt that pulling out of the carbon industry, will affect the university’s bottom line, which means that there must be a pathway to manage the change. Where there’s a will, solutions can be found. At the same time, carrying out the change, is forward thinking into the needs of the future, and acting in the interests of the wider community and planet.

A forum is going to take place at the Sandy Beach Campus, where there will be discussion on the impact of divestment on the university, the community and the planet.

A member of the group, Jessica Jeyasingham, says: “We will hear from a variety of experts, such as Dr John Hewson, the former leader of the Liberal Party [of Australia], as well as “achieve divestment from fossil fuels at UTas. Along the way we hope to engage staff, students and the administration in this discussion and show the administration how much we care about divestment as a student cohort.”

A 2018 sustainability survey found that 79 percent of students support divestment.

Chester James-Smith, another member of Fossil Free UTas, says that “The world is transitioning away from some of its current practises, including the burning of fossil fuels, and sustainability is going to be a huge topic and industry of the future. Universities are about preparing for the future.”

Getting to this point has been a bit of a battle. Last year, members of the group sat in the Vice Chancellor’s office for 15 days to pressure the university administration to make the change.  Dialogue has been established. At a recent meeting with the new Vice Chancellor Professor Rufus Black, a positive relationship was established.

The ongoing action at the University of Tasmania is part of a campaign taking place across universities.


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